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Two-thirds of SMEs have no plans in place for Brexit, CitySprint survey finds

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Two-thirds (64%) of SMEs in the UK have not made specific plans to prepare their business for Brexit, a survey carried out by CitySprint has found.

The company's fifth annual survey of more than 1,000 decision makers and owners at SMEs found that three-quarters (77%) are as confident or more confident about the future of their business compared to 12 months ago.

This figure is a significant drop from the 85% figure recorded in the 2015 survey, indicating signs of serious concern about the future.

The survey found 43% of respondents said they lack confidence in the Government’s ability to protect their business from the impact of Brexit.

When asked what support they would like to see for their business from the Government, reducing VAT or lowering taxes comes top of the list, cited by almost half (45%).

Rolling back austerity and creating a fund to support investment in small businesses placed next, with 29% saying they would like to see a transition deal with the EU to bridge the UK’s exit.

Despite concern about the future, UK SMEs have yet to feel any significant impact on the bottom line from Brexit, with 87% reporting they are in the same or better shape financially compared to 12 months ago (comprising 42% and 45% respectively).

However, when asked what impact leaving the EU will have on their business, around one in five (19%) expect profit margins to decrease and one in six (17%) expect revenue to drop.

Patrick Gallagher, group CEO at CitySprint Group, said: “Whatever difficulties the future holds, it’s ‘business as unusual’ for the UK’s SMEs.

"They have more than weathered the economic ups and downs of recent years, and by working with each other, they will no doubt continue to adapt to the times. Smaller enterprises are both highly agile and deft at reinventing themselves and the way they work to suit the times. It’s their biggest advantage.”

Despite the majority of small and medium sized enterprises failing to put firm plans in place to prepare their business for Brexit, they have taken some steps to futureproof their organisation since Article 50 was triggered in March 2017.

One-third (32%) have upped business development activity, while more than a quarter have decreased their fixed and/or variable costs (27%) and a similar number have increased investment in capital goods or technology (25%). One in five (20%) say they have upped headcount in response.


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