Thursday 24 June 2021 7:46 am

Selling point abroad: Brexit has given Brand Britain a huge boost, says Grant Thornton

Six months on from Brexit, nearly two thirds of UK mid-sized businesses believe that Brexit has strengthened ‘Brand Britain’.

In fact, ‘Brand Britain’ is considered to be an advantage to UK firms looking to venture into new international markets, according to new research, shared with City A.M. today.

About 70 per cent of UK businesses that took part in a survey by financial adviser Grant Thornton said it is helpful when trading internationally Only 7 per cent disagreed. 

While Brexit posed a level of uncertainty to many businesses at the start of the year, more than 62 per cent of the 600 companies that spoke to Grant Thornton believe that they were well prepared for the impacts felt from Brexit so far.

“Mid-sized businesses have proven their resilience and it is clear that, despite the challenges, many are currently feeling more positive about the impacts of Brexit than first feared,” Andrew Howie, head of international at Grant Thornton UK, told City A.M. this morning.

Domestic vs international

While the research finds that Brexit has strengthened ‘Brand Britain’ for the mid-market, the uncertainty it posed has changed the market’s approach to international growth.

“The last year has presented huge uncertainty for businesses of all sizes, with Brexit and the pandemic creating an ever-changing operating environment which has been extremely difficult to navigate,” Howie said.

Just under two thirds, 60 per cent, of respondents said that Brexit has prompted their business to focus more on the domestic rather than international markets.

Despite this shift, it is clear that international expansion is still on the cards for many, “perhaps now that the dust has settled from the immediate Brexit transition,” Howie noted.

Almost half, or 40 per cent, expect to invest more in their international growth plans over the next six months – the third highest investment priority identified in the research, after technology (48 per cent) and skills development, at 44 per cent.

“While Brexit may have focused more attention on the domestic market temporarily, it could open up doors to new international opportunities,” Howie said.

With discussions ongoing around new trade deals with countries across the globe, and the recent deal confirmed with Australia, the ease to operate and grow internationally could encourage many businesses to explore new markets, he added.

For example, two thirds of our survey respondents felt that a free trade agreement with India would be more likely to encourage their business to explore opportunities in this market.

“With new trade agreements underway and mid-market businesses planning to invest more in their international growth plans, we are entering an exciting chapter of a new global Britain with businesses able to explore opportunities internationally that they may not have been able to consider before,” Howie concluded.