UK SMEs start investing more in future exports although more than half are concerned by the decreasing value of sterling

Tracey Boles
Vintage exports (Source: Getty)

THE number of UK SMEs investing in trading overseas has almost doubled over the past 12 months according to the latest SME Confidence Tracker from business funder, Bibby Financial Services (BFS).

The report, which tracks SME sales performance, investment intentions and confidence, highlights that while the main focus for investment in the third quarter of the year is staff training (35 per cent), an increasing number of businesses are gearing-up to export.

The findings reveal that 15 per cent of SMEs invested in export activity in the third quarter of this year, compared with just 8 per cent in the same period last year, signalling an increasing appetite amongst smaller businesses to search for growth beyond their domestic market.

More than one in five manufacturers (22 per cent) said they have invested in overseas trade over the past three months, up from 15 per cent in the second quarter of this year.

“It’s clear that SMEs want to get back to business after an unsettled first half of the year and it’s encouraging to see more SMEs looking overseas to unlock growth,” said global chief executive for Bibby Financial Services, David Postings.

However, more than half (51 per cent) of UK SMEs believe the decreasing value of the pound is a significant threat to their business over the next 12 months, despite a weaker pound providing opportunities for exporters.

Postings added: “While many SMEs are concerned about the falling pound, we’ve seen a range of positive data over the summer that show a resilience in the UK economy. Many firms are now taking advantage of the fall in sterling to build their export capability, particularly those who manufacture within the UK.”

“Much rests on the Government’s trade negotiations both within and outside of the UK but for the time being, the businesses we speak with tell us their priorities are to get on with their jobs and put their capital to work during the final months of the year.”

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