Twenty-nine percent of UK firms are planning to relocate their operations abroad or have already shifted them to cope with the prospect of a hard Brexit, according to a survey conducted by a lobby group for small businesses.
The Institute of Directors (IoD), which represents directors, senior business chiefs and entrepreneurs of some 30,000 companies, asked 1,200 of its members about their operational plans concerning Brexit, with nearly one in three confirming they are looking to relocate abroad.
More than one in ten firms have already set up operations outside the UK as the prospect of a no-deal Brexit looms large, due to Theresa May’s government failing to garner enough support from UK MPs for the prime minister’s deal.
The IoD says that the majority of companies looking to relocate were seeking premises within the European Union.
Edwin Morgan the IoD’s interim director general, said that while all the recent headlines have been about big companies uprooting and leaving British shores – these latest figures show how small businesses have real concerns about the effect of a no-deal Brexit on their operations.
In a statement published on the IoD’s website, Morgan warned: “For these firms, typically with tighter resources, to be thinking about such a costly course of action makes clear the precarious position they are in.”
Major international companies such as Panasonic and Sony have relocated their European headquarters from the UK to the continent. Morgan claims a surge of smaller firms had activated their plans in the past week.
According to the survey of company directors, 11 percent had already carried out relocation plans and five percent were proposing to relocate because of Brexit fears. A further 13 percent were “actively considering” leaving the UK.
Uncertainty around Brexit has given much food for thought for many UK companies. Theresa May’s government are attempting to negotiate changes to the Irish backstop – a key component of the UK’s Brexit deal, which is proving to be a stumbling block to securing an agreement with the EU.