Nigel Mills, Chairman of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum.
Billy Wood

North East businesses bullish in the face of Brexit, says Entrepreneurs' Forum

A new survey carried out by the Entrepreneurs’ Forum has found that the region’s high-growth businesses are defying the continued Brexit uncertainty and remain hopeful about their prospects for the next 12 months.

The study, conducted by Hexham-based Public Knowledge, found that just 10% of the businesses surveyed considered Brexit as one of the main challenges they expected to face in the next year amid a generally positive overall outlook.

In fact, 68% of businesses expected to increase the number of people they employ in the next 12 months while 52% were anticipating an uptick in their export sales on the back of a weak pound, compared to just 3% who were expecting a fall.

Entrepreneurs’ Forum Chairman, Nigel Mills, said that survey, which was completed by 68 businesses, showed that the region’s firms remained ‘bullish’ despite the potential for economic and political upheaval in 2017.

He commented: “The fact that they are confident about creating more jobs, even after the EU referendum, shows how quickly they can adapt to changing markets.

“A majority, including me, wanted to remain in the EU, but all see that being an entrepreneur involves adapting to circumstances and taking a dynamic approach to the opportunities they offer.”

However, one of the main areas of worry for North East businesses was their access to a suitably skilled workforce, with 30% of respondents citing the lack of skilled workers in the region as one of the biggest challenges to growth.

Despite this, businesses still remained hopeful about their prospects for the year ahead, with may taking confidence from a strong year which has saw firms grow staff numbers and exports in comparison to 2015.

“The positive outlook of entrepreneurs in the North East, even in uncertain times, demonstrates just how important they are to the region’s economic revival.

“The creation of jobs, and the wealth that funds public services, are a result of entrepreneurial activity, which must be encouraged and supported,” concluded Mills.

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