Brexit tops the agenda for Central South businesses

October 2020

Despite saying on the 16 October that negotiations over a future economic partnership with the EU were "over" and the UK should "get ready" for a no-deal Brexit, the Government then stated the door is “still ajar” for further talks but only if the EU changes its position.

Against this backdrop, 80% of business leaders in the Central South believe a no-deal Brexit poses a bigger threat than a domestic second wave of COVID-19, according to BDO’s latest Rethinking the Economy survey. In this respect, the Central South region’s companies are bucking the national trend in terms of concerns about a no-deal Brexit. Regional business leaders across the rest of the UK consider a second wave of COVID-19 as a greater cause for concern than a no-deal Brexit. 

Although mid-market businesses in Central South are from a diverse range of sectors, the regional difference perhaps speaks to the fact as a region, we are home to two major ports and widely considered as a gateway to Europe. Cross-border trading is vital to local businesses and they want to know this will still be practical and feasible when Britain completes its EU withdrawal in just two months’ time. 

Southampton and Hampshire were also included in a list of areas where the Government can build a Brexit lorry park which would have a significant impact on the region. 

The business leaders who have driven regional economic growth and created employment for the Central South have faced a challenging year as they’ve steered their businesses through a global pandemic. They’re looking to the Government for clarity after years of uncertainty. It was 2012 when a think tank founder coined the word “Brexit”, eight months before David Cameron announced he would be holding a referendum. 

Nearly a decade on and the years of post-referendum uncertainty which have followed but entrepreneurs have been getting on with business with four in ten Central South companies surveyed already claiming to have settled into a new routine and even consider themselves to be performing well in the COVID-19 climate. 

The same companies have been planning for Brexit as much as they can and have made strategic investments to offset any negative impact. Depending on the company’s sector and operation, this could have been investing in overseas operations, diversifying their supply chain or looking at customs and finance training or new hires. 

Business owners have done this to ensure their resilience in a post-Brexit world with very little substance to guide their strategy. The business leaders in our region are now very clearly calling for a deal to be agreed to protect their businesses and thousands of jobs with more than 50% of companies in the region already having to prioritise redundancies operationally. 

With all of this said, the entrepreneurial spirit of the region continues to shine through and the companies we work with are re-thinking their offer and honing in on the areas of the business they excel at and which drive business performance. This will undoubtedly spark innovation and support the rebuilding of the region’s new economy. 

If you want to find out more about rethinking your business contact Arbinder Chatwal


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