North East SMEs shrug off national Brexit uncertainty

North East SMEs have shrugged off Brexit uncertainty to post strong sales growth as other UK regions decline, the latest figures show.

Monday, 18th February 2019, 5:00 am
Edward Winterton

New research from Bibby Financial Services shows SMEs in the region saw sales growth increase in the last quarter of 2018, despite those across the rest of the United Kingdom seeing sales growth slow.

More than half of SMEs in the North East saw sales increase in the last three months of the year, compared to 37% in the first quarter.

However, it is not all good news.

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Small businesses are slightly less optimistic about the current quarter, with 41% expecting a sales increase in the first three months of 2019, down from 45% in the same period last year.

A quarter of SMEs in the North East have linked a rise in business’ costs to a fall in the pound and 13% say Brexit uncertainty is holding back decisions on future investment.

Now Bibby is calling on the Government to provide reassurance to Britain’s small business community, amid concerns that a no deal Brexit would cause confidence nationwide to fall further still.

UK CEO Edward Winterton said lack of clarity was the problem.

“Despite positive economic growth last year, many SMEs are feeling the full brunt of continued political uncertainty on the Brexit issue.

“Whatever happens between now and March 29, there is a real urgency for the Government to create stability and act to support our SMEs and high streets,” he said.

“If SMEs are hesitant to invest in their businesses, it means they’re at risk of going into recession territory.

“Growth does not come from sitting on cash or waiting for things to get better, and so conversely even as costs are rising, I urge SMEs to look at their spending for the year and set aside capital to invest in their people, products and plan.”