Business development · 20 September 2017

Small exporters report three-year sales peak as domestic confidence tumbles

Around 1.5m small UK firms are said to be trading international
Around 1.5m small UK firms are said to be trading internationally
Britain’s small exporters are experiencing thebiggest’sales upliftforthree years, according to new findings, as confidence among the wider small business communityplummetsamid political and economic uncertainty.

For its latest quarterly Small Business Index (SBI), the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)measured the outlook of UK entrepreneurs to produce an assessment of confidence for future trading.

Almost four in ten small exporters reported an uplift in overseas sales in the past three months the highest proportion since 2014 and over a third are expecting business to improve further for the remainder of 2017.

In comparison, the net balance of small business owners as a whole reporting higher revenues hit a four-year low (2.6 per cent).

The survey results indicate that exporters have taken advantage of the pound’s depreciation against the US dollar and the Euro to offer goods at competitive rates to overseas markets.

Recent research from payment platform WorldFirst suggested Britain’s legion of small international traders has reached 1.5m in number, with exporters contributing a total of 78bn to the economy every month.

Commenting on the apparent strength of UK exports, Mike Cherry, FSB national chairman, said the bullish? outlook of international traders was encouraging.

while growth falters here in the UK, it’s accelerating across the Eurozone and US, he added.

Despite the current optimism of small exporters, Cherry urged policy makers to keep their eye on the ball and secure a stable trading environment once Britain leaves the EU in March 2019.

the right Brexit deal, including a transition period of at least three years, and a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, will be critical to ensuring small firms can access key overseas markets, he added.

bringing forward measures to improve exporting, such as tax credits and export vouchers, would encourage more businesses to seek international opportunities.

Escape route

With small exporters seemingly benefitting from the impact of Brexit, business optimism as whole fell to its lowest level since the EU referendum in June 2016.

The SBI for Q3 stood plummeted to +1 from the +15 registered in Q2, sitting close to the -3 produced immediately after the Brexit vote.


 
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Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.

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