Reader: SMEs

What will happen to SMEs’ international revenues in a post-Brexit world?
We examine three articles that will give you a clue




International trading for SMEs declining

International trading by UK SMEs was in decline by 50 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to the same quarter in 2016, according to a study by WorldFirst.

JD Alois’s article in Crowdfund Insider suggests the number of SMEs planning to export this quarter (29 per cent) is as low as it has been in the past 12 months. Around three quarters of small businesses in the survey said they expected their international revenues to remain stagnant or decline during the first quarter 2018.

WorldFirst’s gloomy assessment is that there is “rock-bottom confidence” in international trade, a sentiment fuelled by fluctuations in sterling, inflation fears and uncertainty surrounding Brexit negotiations.

But despite the negativity, there may be light at the end of the tunnel, with SMEs looking at returning to international trade post-Brexit – 41 per cent admitted to being positive about the UK leaving the EU compared to only 33 per cent the previous year.

SMEs not being heard in Brexit negotiations

SMEs do not feel they are being listened to in the government’s Brexit negotiations and are concerned about the potential impact, writes Ben Chapman in The Independent.

Chapman references a Moore Stephens survey, which found only 6 per cent of SMEs felt the government was listening to them during the negotiations.

The article points out that the biggest concern for SMEs is the potential introduction of trade tariffs, with 38 per cent citing this as a major worry. This was followed by the fear of losing EU labour (30 per cent) and European customers (23 per cent).

The government still has a lot of work to do when it comes to reassuring SMEs. As Mark Lamb, a partner at Moore Stephens explains in the article, “If the government does not give them clear indications of what they can expect once the UK has left the EU, it will be very difficult for many of them to invest in their growth.”

Is now the time to export?

Owen Gough writes in about a study commissioned by Royal Mail, which found that one in 10 small online retailers in the UK does not import or export goods.

However, almost two thirds (64 per cent) wanted to increase sales revenues in 2018. Considering there are two billion internet users worldwide with nearly 100 million of them in English-speaking countries, Royal Mail points out that SMEs should be considering international opportunities as part of their strategy.

Given the current state of the pound, the article suggests that now could be a good time for SMEs to look at exporting overseas.