Over three quarters of Eastern Region businesses are determined to grow despite uncertainty

5/10/2017

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Mid-market businesses remain ambitious and confident in their growth prospects despite an unstable economic landscape and an unsupportive funding environment, according to new research from national law firm Mills & Reeve.

  • Over three quarters (84%)of Eastern Region businesses are determined to grow despite economic uncertainty.
  • Half of all mid-market businesses in the Eastern Region plan to increase turnover in this
  • Half of all mid-market businesses in the Eastern Region plan to increase turnover in this financial year (2017/2018) by 30% or more
  • Of those who plan to grow, 67% would bet their house on meeting this growth target
  • 35% of MSBs will increase staff numbers by over 30%
  • Only 16% have scaled down growth ambitions due to economic uncertainty
  • However, 66% of medium-sized business leaders in the region are frustrated by Government presenting obstacles to growth
  • 52% of Eastern Region leaders believe their company can’t achieve its potential without better long-term finance
  • New report from national law firm Mills & Reeve highlights the defiant ambition of the mid-market as well as the demand for external funding solutions fit for purpose

Mid-market businesses remain ambitious and confident in their growth prospects despite an unstable economic landscape and an unsupportive funding environment, according to new research from national law firm Mills & Reeve.

The study, Defying Gravity - based on the opinions of 500 leaders of medium-sized businesses in the UK – reveals that 83% of mid-market businesses plan to increase turnover in this financial year (2017/2018) by an average of 22%, and two thirds of those aiming to grow (62%) are willing to bet their house on meeting this target.

This is not unrealistic, with the new research also revealing that 80% of medium-sized businesses in the Eastern region grew turnover last year with nearly three-quarters (74%) of Cambridge businesses growing by an average of up to 30%.

There are a number of concerns, however. Three fifths (59%) of mid-market business leaders do not believe that the economy is strong and stable, with two thirds (66%) worried that economic uncertainty will disproportionately affect the mid-market.

External funding is also found to be lacking: almost three in five mid-market leaders (58%) believe that their company can’t achieve its potential without better long-term finance options being available.

More than half (56%) of business leaders stated that they don’t believe mid-market finance is fit for purpose, and (63%) believe that the UK funding environment is great for start-ups, but not for mid-market firms.

Claire Clarke, managing partner at Mills & Reeve, comments:

“Despite very real challenges, it is encouraging to see mid-market leaders remaining defiantly ambitious about growth, determined to beat market conditions and to hold their position as the driving force of the British economy.

“But these businesses are being hindered in their efforts to realise their ambitions. Accessing growth finance suited to mid-market needs is a significant challenge, and the unstable economic and political landscape is causing some businesses to refrain from making the investment necessary to grow.”

The findings are released today ahead of a series of reports from Mills & Reeve championing the mid-market and exploring the current challenges faced by business leaders.

The research goes on to reveal a perceived lack of support from Government, with two thirds (65%) of medium-sized businesses sharing frustration about the Government presenting obstacles to growth, and two thirds of mid-market boards concerned that there is now a real risk of recession (64%).

Furthermore, Brexit threatens to be a significant drain on resource: 61% of mid-market businesses expect the break with the EU to cost their business significant time and money in terms of the administrative burden of regulatory or legislative change. There is equal concern over recruiting and retaining specialist talent as well as low cost labour (55% agree that Brexit is a serious threat to both).

Ian Mather, head of the Cambridge office of Mills & Reeve, adds:

“The mid-market is the unsung powerhouse of the UK economy, and we are hopeful that medium-sized businesses can continue to overcome the barriers to growth formed by uncertainty. The events of the recent past may have rocked the nation’s confidence, but the resilience, strength and ambition of mid-market business leaders appears to remain intact.”

Defying Gravity follows Full Scale Ahead, a 2015 study that explored paths to growth for mid-market businesses and the question of whether to scale or sell.

For more information and to download the full Defying Gravity report, visit www.wearedefyinggravity.co.uk.

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