SMEs remain confident amid Brexit uncertainty

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Most small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are confident about their prospects in the year ahead, despite uncertainty caused by the vote to leave the European Union.

This is the finding of the latest Aldermore SME Future Attitudes report, which said 82 per cent of SMEs are optimistic about their business performance going into 2017.

Indeed, 39 per cent of these particular firms said they expect their revenues to grow in the coming year, while many expect revenues to remain constant over the next 12 months.

This is despite the fact the continuing fallout from the EU referendum earlier this year and uncertainty regarding the government's negotiating position over Brexit.

Two-thirds of SMEs said they do not expect the decision to leave the EU to negatively impact their business.

In addition, 56 per cent of those that export to the EU said they do not anticipate Brexit to have a negative impact on their firm.

Of the 26 per cent of SMEs who are less confident about their prospects following the referendum, nearly two-thirds were worried about the economic uncertainty the Brexit vote has created.

Meanwhile, almost half expressed concerns that leaving the European Union could lead to UK taxes going up.

Carl D’Ammassa, managing director of business finance, said: "Despite the mixed economic news following the UK’s decision to leave the EU, it is encouraging to see that SMEs remain very much focussed on growth over the coming year.

"Companies are clearly still thinking about new ways to drive their growth and as our research shows entering new markets as well as launching new products and services are high on SMEs' agendas. 

"This would indicate a continuing confidence in the UK economy over the next 12 months."

SMEs in the hospitality and leisure industry appear to be particularly confident about their prospects in the year ahead, with almost half expecting revenues to go up.

By contrast, nearly one in four legal services firms are anticipating a decline in revenues during 2017.

Two-fifths of SMEs that anticipate growth plan to launch new products and services in order to drive this expansion.

Meanwhile, 30 per cent plan to enter new markets, while 20 per cent intend to enhance their technology.

In addition, 19 per cent want to stimulate growth by investing extra capital into their business, while 16 per cent are looking at boosting production by recruiting new staff.

"Such business expansion is often underpinned by external funding or investment and it is therefore crucial that companies can access the capital they need to realise their growth ambitions," Mr D’Ammassa added.