London's middle-sized firms are the most prepared in the UK for Brexit, new data shows

Catherine Neilan
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The British Prime Minister Triggers Article 50
A "stark north/south divide" has emerged when it comes to firms' preparedness for leaving the EU (Source: Getty)

Two-thirds of mid-sized businesses say they’re prepared for Brexit - but feelings about the outlook are split along regional lines.

Some 68 per cent of companies with a turnover between £30m and £300m said they were ready for the UK leave the European Union, a Brexit Monitor by YouGov has found.

Nine in 10 companies have started prepartions, the most common of which is to increase productivity and efficiency (36 per cent), review the status of existing EU workers (30 per cent) and increase local recruitment programmes (29 per cent).

Read more: Bank of England's Ben Broadbent sounds Brexit warning on UK trade

One in five (20 per cent) businesses plan to move some operations outside of the UK while 18 per cent said they had established, or would look to establish EU-based subsidiaries or branches.

But the study, commissioned by RSM, found that “a stark north/south divide” had formed in medium-to-long term sentiment.

Despite voting strongly to remain, London-based businesses were the most likely to feel optimistic about the opportunities on the horizon, with 55 per cent saying they felt positive about the impact of Brexit on the economy over the next five years.

Central England (48 per cent) and the South (46 per cent) were the next most optimistic.

But businesses in Scotland and the North were more gloomy, with 55 per cent of companies in the North West feeling pessimistic about the outlook, followed by the North East and Yorkshire (50 per cent) and Scotland (49 per cent).

Read more: Theresa May must not overlook mid-sized fast growth firms in Brexit talks

Simon Hart, RSM’s Brexit lead partner said: “Decision makers appear generally confident that the UK and their businesses will adapt and emerge stronger post Brexit.

“Whether this optimism will continue during the negotiations remains to be seen, but early sentiment is positive.”

Manufacturing was the most consistently upbeat sector, with 57 per cent of companies operating in the sector positive about the economy’s prospects over the next five years, while 78 per cent felt prepared for an EU exit.

The financial services (46 per cent) and TMT (55 per cent) sectors were also positive about the UK’s economic prospects over the next five years, while only 36 and 39 per cent respectively were negative.

Read more: Brexit schmexit: UK firms lift overseas turnover despite EU vote woes

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