Almost half of British exporters have not reviewed their sales strategy in the year since Britain voted to leave the , potentially leaving them exposed to losses, a survey by showed.
The EU bought 44 per cent of Britain’s good and services exports in 2015 and many employers are worried about the risk of new barriers to trade with the bloc after .
“Wait-and-see is not really an adequate strategy for exporters,” said Clive Higglesden, a banker from a division of Lloyds that provides services to firms selling overseas. “Businesses should be acting now to manage any risks on the horizon and possibly explore new opportunities.”
Britain’s government has urged companies to find fresh markets as it prepares to leave the EU in 2019, and trade minister angered business leaders last year by saying some would rather play golf than seek out new foreign customers.
Liam Fox said a bespoke trade deal between Britain and the EU should be “one of the easiest in human history” to reach – though he added that Britain could manage without one if necessary. Sterling fell in response.
Of the more than 1,000 exporting firms surveyed by polling firm for Lloyds, 85 per cent send exports to the EU and the bloc was the main market for 54 per cent of them.
Twenty-seven per cent of the companies that said they had reviewed their export strategies said they planned to look for trade opportunities outside the EU. But 30 per cent said they intended to focus on the domestic market instead of exports.
Lloyds said that could leave companies more exposed to the ups and downs of Britain’s economy.
The survey was conducted between May and June and around 90 per cent of the firms which took part had annual turnover of less than £750m.
A separate survey published this week showed barely one in companies has started to put Brexit contingency plans into effect because many firms remained unclear about what leaving the EU would mean.