Caithness Map :: Links to Site Map Great value Unlimited Broadband from an award winning provider  


More firms urged to prepare for Brexit

26th February 2019

Photograph of More firms urged to prepare for Brexit

Businesses in the Highlands and Islands are being encouraged to plan for the impacts of Brexit.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has made the call following the findings of the agency's latest business panel survey, carried out in September and October 2018.

More than two-thirds (70%) of firms who took part in the survey highlighted Brexit as one the main risks they face, and only 13% stated it posed no risk to their business. More than half (58%) felt leaving the EU posed risks of changes in regulations; 53% were concerned about import tariffs and 53% felt it could also lead to change in funding policy.

Despite this, the survey showed that only 17% of firms have a plan in place to help them prepare for Brexit, and a further fifth (20%) recognise that they need to develop a plan.

In January, 25 delegates attended HIE's ‘Get your business-Brexit ready’ workshop. This covered topics such as communication with suppliers and customers, customs, documentation and workload. The agency also ran a free webinar on 25 February to help businesses prepare for Brexit.

The survey suggests potential for increased competition in domestic markets as more businesses seek to grow their markets within Scotland or the UK to counter the impacts of Brexit.

Carroll Buxton, HIE’s director of regional development, said:"While there is still a great deal of uncertainty about how Brexit will affect businesses in the region, some are already taking steps to prepare, and we would encourage others to do so. There is help available on the Prepare For Brexit website and from our own website. Through these, businesses can access expert advice to help them plan, including a handy 15-point Brexit check list. There are also links to events that can help firms target new markets at home and overseas."

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing said:"This survey demonstrates again the level of worry amongst Scotland’s business community, thanks to the continuing uncertainty around Brexit, with companies in the Highlands and Islands understandably very concerned about the potential impact that potential changes to regulations, the introduction of tariffs, and increased competition in the marketplace could have on their business. What is certain is that trade with our single biggest partner is going to become more complicated, more time consuming, and possibly more expensive.

“Clearly the best option for Scotland’s rural economy would be to stay in the single market, but if we have to leave then businesses must prepare as best as they can. I would encourage them to engage with an HIE workshop if possible, or familiarise themselves with the 15 point checklist on the Brexit-ready website."

In addition to questions on Brexit and international trade, the business panel survey covered core issues such as economic confidence, business performance and optimism. It also explored a range of themes such as risks and opportunities; growth and business values; and productivity and competitiveness.

Almost two thirds (63%) said they were confident in the region’s economy and 80% were optimistic about their own performance and prospects. However, confidence in the Scottish economy, appeared to be at its lowest recorded in the surveys since 2016.

Increased costs (88%) and political uncertainty (79%) were seen as the greatest risks facing the region’s businesses. Loyal customer base (85%) and increasing demand (80%) were seen as the greatest opportunities.

More than a third (34%) of business that took part in the survey were trading internationally, with those with upwards of ten employees more likely to be doing so. Respondents had mixed views on the importance to their business of access to the European Single Market. Just over half (55%) regarded this as important while 41% said it is not important.

However, a higher proportion (79%) considered the single market important to the Scottish economy overall; higher than the level reported in the previous survey.

The free movement of people across the EU was also viewed as more important to the Scottish economy than to respondents’ own businesses. Most (86%) felt this was important to the Scottish economy compared with 9% who felt it was not important. Only two in five (41%) felt it was important to their business, while over half (57%) felt it was not.

Producing quality goods and services was given as the top business value by almost all (96%) of respondents, followed by maintaining a good work-life balance (93%). Quality goods and services was also viewed as the main aspect that gives firms a competitive advantage, and 94% of businesses said they had taken action in the past 12 months to improve their competitiveness.

Aspiration to grow was reported by 56% of respondents, and this was more so in firms with 25 or more employees.

Collaboration between businesses was a common theme, with 67% saying they were collaborating, or were likely to collaborate, with other firms. Networking to identify new opportunities and sub-contracting were reported as the most popular ways in which businesses collaborate.

Carroll Buxton added:“The information shared by businesses through our surveys continues to be critical in helping us to respond to the challenges and opportunities facing our regional economy.

“The confidence businesses have expressed in the region’s economy and their continued optimism is particularly encouraging given the uncertainties many of them face this year.

“Our work in supporting businesses going forward includes identifying new markets in Scotland, the UK and overseas, and the adoption of new technologies to help increase competitiveness.”


Related Businesses


Related Articles

Experts Help Businesses To Be Pitch Perfect
Three inspirational coaches will lead the latest edition of the Pathfinder programme which aims to put businesses in the Highlands and Islands on the fast track to success.   A 12-week accelerator course hosted by entrepreneurial experts Steve Thomas, Danny Meaney, and Dr Andy Kelly offers a unique opportunity for businesses to pressure test their ideas and hone the perfect pitch.  
Caithness And North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership - Update
Week commencing 18 March 2019.   Energy & Business Services: I'm delighted to see yesterday's news that Restore Digital have announced the creation of 39 new job opportunities in Wick.  
Caithness And North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership - Update
Weeks commencing 4th & 11th March 2019.   SpaceHub Sutherland: Further community engagement events have taken place this week - a drop-in event was held in Tongue on Wednesday, followed by a further drop-in event in Wick on Thursday.  
Useful Message From HIE - Companies Looking For Your ProductsThumbnail for article : Useful Message From HIE - Companies Looking For Your Products
Did you know that France is looking for dairy products, the demand for craft beer is high in Thailand, and Switzerland is in need of engineering services? You can find out where in the world the demand for your product or service is on the Department of International Trade website.  With over 17,000 export sales lead, you can also pitch your company to overseas buyers who are looking for products and services like yours.  
Be Business Brave with HIEThumbnail for article : Be Business Brave with HIE
Over the years, we have helped many companies throughout the Highlands and Islands to explore their exporting potential and be business brave.   In our latest film, which has been viewed over 1,600 times already on Facebook, we featured just a small selection of these businesses.  
Caithness And North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership - UpdateThumbnail for article : Caithness And North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership - Update
Week Commencing 25 February 2019 Energy & Business Services: The Beatrice Offshore Windfarm project has passed the 75% mark in its construction phase with the installation this week of the 63rd of 84 turbines The company is also currently advertising for a Wind Turbine Engineer to be based at Wick. Enabling activities: Caithness Chamber of Commerce - in its role as Europe Direct Information Centre (EDIC) for the North Highlands, Orkney and Shetland - hosted a Brexit Business Breakfast in Thurso today (Friday).  
Caithness And North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership - UpdateThumbnail for article : Caithness And North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership - Update
Week Commencing 18th February 2019 SpaceHub Sutherland: The SHS team held two more information events this week - in both the Melness Community Centre and the Pentland Hotel, Thurso.   I attended the Thurso event, which saw a steady stream of interested visitors (around 100 in total) asking questions about the background to the project and on the progress it is making.  
New Opportunity For Young Business LeadersThumbnail for article : New Opportunity For Young Business Leaders
Young business leaders in the Highlands are being offered a chance to join a dynamic and highly personalised business growth programme to help drive their businesses forward.   In October a chocolatier, an estate agent and a seller of Indian spices along with eight others became the first young leaders to be selected for IMPACT30.  
Caithness And North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership - Update
Week commencing 11 February 2019.   SpaceHub Sutherland: The SHS team are holding more events this week - in both the Melness Community Centre (Tuesday 19th February, 15.30-20.00) and the Pentland Hotel, Thurso (Wednesday 20th February, 15.30-20.00).  
Caithness And North Sutherland Regeneration Partnership - Update
Weekly update from CNSRP - week commencing 4th February 2019.   SpaceHub Sutherland: The SHS team were in the Kyle Community Centre in Tongue for the first of a planned weekly presence in the area on Wednesdays between 1000 to 1300 hrs to allow people to meet with the project team.  

[Printer Friendly Version]