Insurance · 9 November 2015

880,000 of the UK’s small businesses aim to expand overseas by 2025

Small businesses should work with industry bodies like the UKTI to see what opportunities exist
Small businesses should work with industry bodies like the UKTI to see what opportunities exist

Nearly a fifth of Britain’s small firms intend to expand overseas by 2025, an increase from the 10.8 per cent currently taking advantage of additional export revenues.

Research conducted by business e-lender Everline and the Centre for Economic and Business Research (Cebr) found that after growing their workforce, exporting was the next popular option for how small firms planned to implement expansion plans over the next ten years.

Differences were evident across regions, with nearly twice as many London small businesses intending to export, while those in the North were least likely to look overseas with 11 per cent of firms saying it was on the horizon for them. This was followed by the South at 13 per cent and the Midlands at 17 per cent.

The industries most likely to engage in exporting over the next ten years were IT and telecoms (29 per cent), manufacturing (26 per cent) and media, marketing and PR (23 per cent).

Finance and accounting firms had less concrete intentions, with seven per cent intending to expand overseas, and 14 per cent of retail outlets, even though online has widened opportunities to scale internationally.

Russell Gould, COO at Everline, said: “Although the number of small businesses planning on expansion overseas is hugely positive, more could be done to encourage small businesses in this area, particularly outside of London.”

He pointed out the Annual Business Survey figures showed that a third of medium-sized firms, and 41 per cent of large companies currently take advantage of export growth. “Small businesses should work with industry bodies like the UKTI to see what opportunities exist.”

Much has been made of the government’s ambitious £1trn export target by 2020, with the chairman of the BIS committee calling it “pie in the sky”, and Sam Alderson, an economist at Cebr, said the target looks likely to be missed “by quite some way”.

“Given that tapping into the export potential of the UK’s small business community could provide a major boost to exports, encouraging small firms to look for opportunities overseas should remain a key priority in coming years,” Alderson explained.

The chief executive of UKTI, Catherine Raines, said the rising numbers of small firms looking to export was encouraging. “Exporters of all sizes are more productive, innovative and resilient to economic downturns than non-exporters’ they achieve a stronger bottom line’ boost their reputation and profile; and are more likely to stay in business,” she said.

Photo: Kenneth Lu

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Rebecca is a reporter for Business Advice. Prior to this, she worked with a range of tech, advertising, media and digital clients at Propeller PR and did freelance work for The Telegraph.

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