London reports bigger impact but even there is the most positive when it comes to Brexit opportunities
More than half of UK SME owners (56 percent) say they have felt “no impact” on levels of business from the UK’s decision to leave the EU, according to the quarterly Close Brothers Business Barometer.
Nationally, 24 percent of 900 business owners surveyed, said Brexit had had a “direct effect” on their company, while a further 20 percent felt that it was “too early to tell”.
Regionally, businesses in Greater London felt the most affected by Brexit, with 46 percent answering “yes” to the question “have you seen an impact on your business caused by Britain’s decision to leave the EU?”. But 38 percent answered “no”.
Least affected was the North East (no – 71 percent; yes – 20 percent) and East Anglia (no – 69 percent; yes – just 12 percent). Wales was similarly bullish, with 63 percent answering “no” and 12 percent saying “yes”.
Of those companies who felt that there had been an “impact” on their firm, 40 percent have still seen an improvement in business, while 43 percent have seen a decrease. The remainder (17 percent) said business had stayed about the same.
Engineering firms were the most positive, with 65 percent of firms surveyed saying the impact of Brexit had been “beneficial”.
“It’s clear that the majority of UK SMEs are yet to feel any real and tangible effect from Brexit,” said Neil Davies, CEO, Close Brothers Asset Finance. “It’s interesting to note that of those who have been impacted, it’s pretty much split down the middle in terms of those who have been positively and detrimentally affected.
“There is also a real regional difference, with businesses in London feeling the most exposed.”
More than three quarters (76 percent) of businesses have not delayed spending or investment decisions because of the EU Referendum result.
Regions most likely to answer “no” to the question “have you delayed any spending or investment decisions because of the EU referendum?”, were East Anglia (87 percent), Wales (90 percent) and Northern Ireland (90 percent).
Greater London was the region most likely to delay spending, with 48 percent of respondents suggesting that Brexit had prevented them from investing.
Companies that said they had delayed spending cited the “economic uncertainty” created by Brexit as the primary reason (62 percent) for holding back.
Only 18 percent of business owners are of the view that the decision to leave the EU will lead to fewer opportunities. But 33 percent are looking forward to “better prospects in the future”. And 49 percent anticipate “no change” and that it is likely to be “business as usual”.
And despite the uncertainty down south: “Greater London companies are the most positive region we surveyed,” said Davies, “53 percent expect more opportunities.”
The pound has now hit 1.20 against the euro, approaching the exchange rate pre-Brexit.