New research from leading business and financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP finds more than two-thirds (69%) of mid-market businesses in the North West believe ‘Brand Britain’ is advantageous when selling overseas.

63% of respondents feel that Brexit has in fact strengthened ‘Brand Britain’. Despite this, more than half (51%) report that the decision to leave the EU has negatively impacted trading overall.

The majority (65%) reported that they were well prepared for any immediate negative effects following the end of the transition period. More than half (60%) of North West businesses have already optimised their supply chains.

The biggest challenges for mid-market businesses post-Brexit were identified as:

  • Trade compliance issues (49%)
  • Immigration and people mobility challenges (40%)
  • Uncertainty over product labelling (39%)
  • Loss of talent (36%)
  • Setting up new overseas operations (30%)
  • VAT compliance issues (30%)

The data also reveals that more than two-thirds (70%) of business leaders in the region are finding it harder to grow their business internationally now, when compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over half (58%) feel there will be less of a requirement for international business travel post-pandemic, with more than 71% indicating their company’s carbon footprint will be a key factor in determining whether overseas travel is essential.

Paul Wilson, partner at Grant Thornton in the North West, said: “While the research finds that Brexit has strengthened ‘Brand Britain’ for the mid-market, it may not be enough to outweigh the negative impact the decision to leave the EU is having on international growth aspirations.

“The majority of globally-trading North West businesses have weathered these last two quarters following the end of the transition period well; optimising their supply chains and adjusting their processes accordingly.

“But the remainder of 2021 is far from certain. The current grace period between the EU and UK is set to expire in the autumn and may challenge some businesses. On the positive side, however, international travel is likely to pick up as more countries roll out COVID-19 vaccination programmes. A trade deal with India is also mooted to follow the recent agreement with Australia.

“With the climate emergency now squarely back atop the boardroom agenda ahead of COP26 in November, businesses will clearly be more circumspect about the volume of air miles they rack up and our survey reflects this. However, despite the efficiency, cost and carbon saving afforded by videoconferencing, many cultures will still insist on in-person meetings. The ability to resume face-to-face business development will be a relief to many of the region’s businesses looking to expand into new territories.”