More than five years on from the Brexit referendum, Britain’s leading businesses agree that Brexit has had a negative impact: 80% claim that Brexit has made supply chain management worse, 71% admit that it has made recruitment and retention more difficult, while 65% say that its hampered international trade.
Although the extent of the impact varies by sector, this is a far cry from the expectations business leaders had in 2017 when asked about the potential impact of Brexit, where only 19% anticipated significant impact on hiring.
On the positive side, British businesses have also modified their strategies and approaches so that 57% confirm that Brexit has made no difference to achieving their profits and financial goals, against 45% believing it would have little impact on profits back in 2017.
British resilience comes through
Responding to the annual Britain’s Most Admired Companies study, 198 FTSE directors spanning all sectors commented that key to their resilience has been to improved supply chain management, to de-risk their business model and to focus on British talent.
The findings also highlighted differing impacts according to those most exposed to the European market. While some listed companies are global with limited operations in the UK, others serve only the UK market and said they were not affected.
One CEO said that “the vast majority of our business is not U.K. to EU so we’re less affected than others. The free movement of labour has meant our UK businesses have a more limited hiring pool and much more paperwork to complete for exports”, while another admitted to “consciously limiting our UK manufacturing”. One director summed up that a Brexit posed a ‘huge loss of talent , created much more cumbersome regulations, and drove a loss of synergies and scale.”
Others talked more about innovative strategies and new markets to explore, including adding in European bases: “Some companies are behind the curve when it comes to establishing European offices: this is a risk to their business model.”
Britain’s Most Admired Companies is the longest-running annual survey of corporate reputation in the UK, with data going back 32 years. The study is run by leading reputation specialists and Expert Witnesses, Echo Research, with support from academic partners at Coventry University. Senior-level respondents are interviewed online and by telephone which gets to the heart of what makes a business succeed in Britain today. Fieldwork was conducted between August and October 2022. Results of the winners across 27 sectors and 13 reputational criteria will be announced on 29th March.