Says Cameron Rathwell, HSBC Area Director & Head of Corporate Banking in the Thames Valley
In a politically uncertain world, against the backdrop of two failed Brexit attempts last year, the resilience of many UK businesses has been impressive.
While the UK’s divorce from the European Union poses businesses with challenges, many see these as opportunities rather than threats.
As a result, businesses are finding new markets, embracing new technologies, mitigating risks and cutting costs.
Our latest HSBC Navigator Report surveyed more than 9,000 business decision-makers across the world to understand the challenges and opportunities they face. And the report offers lessons for this region’s business community.
Despite US-China trade tensions, growing protectionism and geopolitical changes, and the potential impact of Brexit, companies are surprisingly positive about their future.
This perhaps can be attributed to a number of factors. Economies are growing more slowly, but most are still growing. Agile companies are taking advantage of the shifting trade landscape to grab market share and expand. And firms are increasingly recognising global trade as a force for good. It can spur innovation, help raise incomes and support policies for inclusion.
This list of 100 top exporters reveals some of the biggest companies across Oxfordshire and the Thames Valley, and some smaller but no less exciting.
Many young and agile businesses are building expansion plans into their early growth strategies, rather than bolting on an ill-fitting export plan at a later date.
Nearly eight in 10 UK companies are projecting growth in the next year, just under the global average. They are also focusing increasingly on sustainability and workforce well being. And the most confident high-growth firms believe that their growth will be 15 per cent or more.
Trading within Europe remains fundamental for the UK, but rather than the traditional reliance on Germany and France, UK companies are much more positive about trading outside Europe.
Businesses also think 2020 will be another year of growth. In Europe, where the impact of Brexit is more of a consideration, 78 per cent of companies remain confident that they will grow their sales. But the continent has the lowest proportion of firms (30 per cent) expecting growth of more than 10 per cent.
Innovation is the name of the game
There isn’t a single industry that hasn’t been disrupted by technology. Businesses are harnessing technological advances as a powerful enabler for business efficiency, sales growth and increased productivity.
British businesses believe they can grow by investing in technology, introducing new products and services and motivating their workforce.
In the next three to five years, businesses expect data security, artificial intelligence (AI), 5G, robotics and the Internet of Things (IoT) to be increasingly important to improve product and service quality, alongside productivity.
Protectionism can boost local supply chains
A majority of British businesses think that protectionism by governments across the world to protect their countries’ economies, is increasing.
But despite the threat of higher tariffs and charges on the supply chain, almost two-thirds of UK companies expect their businesses to gain more than they lose. They plan to tackle the problem through sourcing from local suppliers, shortening supply chains and entering joint ventures with local companies.
Read the HSBC Navigator report: www.business.hsbc.com/navigator
Published as part of our 100 Top Exporters Oxfordshire & Thames Valley feature in our January/February Issue read full feature here