Most Hertfordshire and Essex businesses growing despite worries about Brexit

Most business leaders in Hertfordshire and Essex say that their businesses are growing financially, despite some of those surveyed reporting a negative impact from Brexit, according to research by Price Bailey.

According to the research, 54% of Hertfordshire and Essex businesses surveyed grew financially over the past year.

Business leaders in Hertfordshire and Essex are much more negative about Brexit than their peers in London and the rest of the East of England. Nearly half (48%) of business leaders in Hertfordshire and Essex reported that Brexit has already damaged their businesses compared to 35% across the East of England and London as a whole. Just 6% of the Hertfordshire and Essex business leaders questioned said that Brexit had been positive.

The research, Inside the Minds of Business Leaders, was undertaken by Ipsos MORI and involved interviews with 200 local business leaders across the East of England and London on a variety of issues ranging from Brexit, business confidence, growth and exit strategies and other key challenges. 50 Interviews were conducted in Hertfordshire and Essex.

Martin Clapson, Managing Director at Price Bailey, comments: “Over half of businesses in Hertfordshire and Essex we surveyed reported that their businesses had grown in the past year and the same number expect growth in the next 12 months. Just 12% think that their financial position will deteriorate, which is very positive.”

“Those business leaders who said Brexit is having a negative impact cited the devaluation of the pound as a major concern, which for many will have meant increased costs that they must absorb.”

“Over half of the Hertfordshire and Essex business leaders we questioned transact no work outside the UK. This leaves them disproportionately affected by the fall in the value of the pound and, unlike exporters, unable to benefit from the competitive advantage the cheap pound confers in overseas markets.”

He adds: “56% of Hertfordshire and Essex business owners we spoke to said that finding and retaining people is a concern. Organisations which can offer flexible and remote working are more likely to keep their best people, which is why the development of infrastructure, such as broadband and mobile phone networks, are so important in counties like Hertfordshire and Essex, which are largely rural.”

According to the Price Bailey research, when asked what the one thing they would like to see the Government do to support businesses in Hertfordshire and Essex, just 2% of those leaders sampled said, ‘reverse Brexit’. The top priorities were ‘reduce legislation/cut regulation’ (28%) and ‘reduce the tax burden’ (12%).

Martin Clapson says: “While some Hertfordshire and Essex businesses have suffered from the fall in the pound, the business leaders we sampled suggest that there is little desire to reverse Brexit now the process is underway. Businesses have more immediate concerns, such as red tape and the tax burden. If the Government were to focus on these concerns, the negative impact of Brexit could be partially offset.”

40% of Hertfordshire and Essex business owners responding to the survey do not have a business plan they regularly refer to and update

The research also shows that 40% of Hertfordshire and Essex business leaders responding to the survey do not have a plan that they regularly review.

Martin Clapson says: “A business plan is an important document for owners who want to manage their organisations more effectively. It is doubly valuable during a period of economic uncertainty, such as we are experiencing now. A business plan can lead to better investment decisions and help with cashflow management, which can put a business in better shape for negotiating economic headwinds, such as the depreciation of the pound or interest rate rises.”

He concludes: “Just over a third (34%) of Hertfordshire and Essex businesses we questioned have an exit plan, yet succession planning is one of the major headaches for owners. Many owners balk at the idea of having an exit plan at the outset but a properly considered and executed plan can make finding a buyer a quicker process and significantly enhance the sale value.”