Majority of UK firms confident on 3 year growth plans

Two thirds of UK businesses are confident their business will grow over the next three years; of this, more than a quarter said there were ‘very’ confident.

In addition, the research found greater confidence among firms that export and trade internationally: 66 per cent of businesses that describe themselves as ‘international’ were confident in terms of three-year growth compared to 61 per cent for firms that are just focused on the domestic UK market.

Firms that export are also more ambitious than purely domestic businesses when measured against key indicators such as investing in product development and expanding abroad. Two thirds of UK-only firms said they were actively looking at product development, for instance, compared to 79 per cent of internationally focused ones.

More than half of firms that describe themselves as ‘international’ also said their business has improved over the past year. The top two reasons given for this growth were new clients and greater efficiencies in their international operations.

Asked what the main barriers to international expansion were, UK-only firms cited the need to build a strong domestic base first as the key reason.

This was followed by obtaining reliable foreign representation, identifying foreign business opportunities, and limited information on overseas markets. Other key reasons were a shortage of working capital to finance exports and an inability to contact potential overseas customers.

John Carroll, Head of Products and International Business, ‎Santander UK, who commissioned the research, said: “It’s extremely encouraging that a large majority of the UK’s SMEs and large corporations are predicting strong growth over the next three years. This is great news for the UK economy, particularly given the bullish sentiment towards hiring new staff and indicators such as new product development.

“We know from experience that firms that export and trade internationally tend to be more confident and benefit from additional opportunities. We are uniquely placed to support businesses’ aspirations for growth and expansion with tools such as our Trade Portal, Trade Club and International desk directors. Santander has a strong international presence thanks to its extensive global network in 10 major markets and more than 12,000 branches worldwide and a network of international alliance partners.

“Through our Trade Missions we are giving businesses of all sizes the chance to make connections that will unlock these global opportunities to export and trade internationally. We believe passionately there should be no barriers to international expansion.”