Businesses in East Anglia back themselves for future growth

February 2021

More than 93% of business leaders in East Anglia think now is the right time to invest in their business, despite ongoing economic pressures which demonstrates the strong entrepreneurial spirit and relative sense of optimism in the region. This percentage is higher than any other region across the UK with results ranging from 43% of Yorkshire businesses believing now is the right time to invest.

These are the findings of our latest Rethinking the Economy survey which suggests mid-sized business owners are looking ahead to how they can invest right now in order to reinvigorate their ambitions and realise value in the long-term. Meanwhile, there are significant short-term challenges with a third of companies in East Anglia sharing that it will take more than seven months to return to pre-COVID-19 revenues even once the strictest restrictions are lifted.

Government support for businesses

Businesses in the region are looking to the Government for direction and most claim the key to unlocking recovery will be a relaxation of restrictions as soon as possible and an extension of repayment terms on COVID-19 loans. The latter has already been addressed to an extent with an announcement this week that the Chancellor will allow businesses to repay bounce back loans “as they grow.” This will extend the length of repayment terms for bounce back loans from six to 10 years, reducing monthly repayments.  With this news, struggling businesses will also be able to choose interest-only repayments or payment holidays for up to six months, giving them breathing space to plan ahead.

Investing in future growth

When it comes to investing, 47% of company leaders in East Anglia told us they will prioritise investment in technology to support more people working remotely and yet 37% of companies are planning to invest in larger premises or offices over the next six months. This shows how differently businesses are re-thinking their future strategy. Since the initial period of reacting to the pandemic, many business owners have had the opportunity to take a step back from the way they work and look at ways they can streamline or expand to create operations which will make them fit for the future. Six in ten business owners told us they will have to change suppliers to non-EU-based businesses in the next six months and a third said they planned to seek out new international markets for growth. The range of challenges and opportunities is diverse.

New businesses in East Anglia

Statistics from the region recently reported in the East Anglian Daily Times also show that company formations rose in 2020 with record new business registrations. More than 5,000 companies were formed in Norfolk and Suffolk with nearly new businesses 20,000 in Essex, which ranked as the fifth highest area in the UK. Of course, there are many potential factors contributing towards this figure. What’s clear is that the region’s entrepreneurs are backing their own ability to drive the future recovery and growth of East Anglia’s economy. History tells us how crucial the recovery of regional mid-sized businesses will be to the overall rehabilitation of the UK economy.

Our Rethinking European Business hub has lots of useful tools to help you plan, including our priority checklist.

If you want to discuss any concerns with your local BDO Partner, please contact Sarah Elms.


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