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Scottish businesses remain resilient despite Brexit uncertainty

Debbie Mayor of Grant Thornton.
Debbie Mayor of Grant Thornton.

Scotland’s businesses remain optimistic about their future growth plans, despite increasing political and economic uncertainty, according to research published today.

Quarterly data from business and financial advisers Grant Thornton reveals more than half of Scottish business leaders questioned are confident about the country’s economy over the next 12 months.

The research for the firm’s International Business Report (IBR), involved more than 2,500 companies in 36 economies and found confidence levels in Scotland among the highest in Europe and the G72.

However, while macro-economic expectations remain high, there are some signs that increasing political uncertainty is leading companies to take a more cautious approach to future investments.

The research reveals only 34% of Scottish companies plan to increase headcount in the coming year – 10% lower than last quarter and 19% down on 2015. Only 11% expect exports to increase, despite recent currency fluctuations meaning favorable conditions for Scottish exporters.

Debbie Mayor, head of international at Grant Thornton in Scotland, said: “The latest set of data provides some reassurance during a time of great uncertainty. Businesses in Scotland remain resilient and focused on driving forward their growth ambitions. But, despite that positive news, there are clearly some warning signs.

“With relatively few companies planning to increase employment and export figures falling short of what we might expect, it’s clear we need to address some of the critical issues facing the country’s economy in the coming months.

“It’s particularly challenging for businesses to plan ahead when potentially game changing political decisions are anticipated, from single-market access to Scottish independence. A collaborative approach by business leaders will help tackle the challenges that lie ahead and focus on sustainable, resilient long-term growth.”

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