UK businesses eye up international markets to ride out Brexit and Covid-19

London, UK: A growing number of British businesses are considering expansion into new global markets to counter threats from Brexit and the coronavirus epidemic, says a new report.

The report by One World Express found that 57% of UK private sector organisations are considering expansion into new global markets with 45% saying the pandemic has made them realise they are overly reliant on one market.

Logistics firm One World Express commissioned an independent survey among over 900 decision-makers within UK businesses. It found that 43% have pivoted their product or service since the pandemic began – this being particularly true of large businesses (57% among firms with over 250 employees).

A quarter (24%) of companies have also begun selling to new demographics of customers since the lockdown began in March.

One World Express’ research showed that, at present, 42% of UK businesses export their products or services globally. However, in light of the difficult trading conditions resulting from coronavirus, 57% are considering expansion into new international markets in the months ahead, with a further 44% saying Brexit has prompted them to explore new export opportunities outside of the Single Market.

Almost half (45%) of private sector organisations say the pandemic has made them realise they are overly reliant on one particular marketplace – this figure rises to 58% among large businesses (250+ employees).

A slim majority (51%) of decision-makers believe a lack of knowledge about international markets prevents their organisation from expanding outside the UK. Further, 43% feel the cost of doing so would be prohibitively high for them to make a profit from the move.

Atul Bhakta, chief executive, One World Express, said: “At a time when the world has been turned upside down, it is unwise for business leaders to believe they can simply ‘keep calm and carry on’. So, it is positive to see many companies taking bold action in the midst of the pandemic.”

“Exporting globally could be the difference between life and death for businesses in 2020. After all, countries around the world have been affected by the virus’ spread in different ways, so any business that sells to a broader range of markets is giving itself the best possible chance to succeed.”

“Importantly, while many UK business believe expanding into international markets would be too complicated or costly, this is not the case. Selling products or services cross-border is both simple and affordable, as long as the prepares thoroughly and finds the right partners.”

The market research was carried out in April-May 2020 among 924 UK adults via an online survey by market research agency Opinium.

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