South West businesses rethink route to growth as companies look ahead

November 2020

As England enters a second lockdown, it would be easy for business leaders to take this as another knockback in an already exceptionally challenging year. Despite this, a third of South West businesses feel they have settled into a new routine and are performing well. What has, perhaps, changed during the course of the year, is how they are going about achieving growth. Many are looking towards new markets or creating new types of roles in order to realise their ambitions. 

Changing face of business in the South West 

Our monthly Rethinking the Economy survey has revealed that 62% of businesses in the South West are still going ahead with plans to expand overseas in the next six months, despite current trading conditions. What’s more, 41% of companies in the region are restructuring roles within their business in order to avoid redundancies. This could include retraining or secondments to other business areas as their companies evolve and adapt.

This means the shape and size of businesses is changing but those focused on their future strategy – and beyond the immediate – will likely emerge from this crisis as stronger and more resilient organisations. True resilience is the ability of a business to withstand, adapt, and thrive in the face of internal and external threats. So, although looking to overseas expansion may seem counterintuitive as brings its own new risks, those who do this effectively will reap the reward. With so many companies in the region with sights set on international markets, this is positive news for the area as a whole with potential to establish the South West on the global map. 

Support for businesses in the region

There is wider support for these companies as last month the government announced a new package of measures with its Export Growth Plan to support SMEs in the region with overseas expansion. This is set to include 12 new International Trade Advisors (ITAs), who will provide direct support to companies. 

Launched alongside a pilot Export Academy, which will deliver a series of initiatives to develop businesses’ capabilities and create a new cohort of confident South West businesses ready to trade. In addition, a £3.6 million South Internationalisation Fund has been created, which will help up to 720 businesses in the South West grow their overseas trading and boost business over the next three years. 

Alongside government support, the region is well served by quality advisers with international perspective. The reach of our own network means we are able to work with offices across 167 territories and tap into local expertise. In a post Brexit world, we’d expect to see an ongoing support for businesses with global ambitions as the UK develops links with growing economies to boost ‘Brand Britain.’

The business leaders investing in their own brand and business now will have a competitive advantage in overseas markets which will help them to realise their ambitions at home and abroad in the years to come. 

To read more about the results of Rethinking the Economy survey please click here. 


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