UK SMEs defy Brexit chaos with $57bn growth

A high potential group of more than 13,000 SMEs in the UK have experienced combined revenue growth of £44bn over the last three years, according to new research from BGF
3 April 2019

PM Theresa May’s effective handling of Brexit has been repeatedly brought into question. Source: Shutterstock

Amid all the chaos and confusion swirling around the Brexit fiasco that is currently engulfing the UK, it’s heartening to know that SMEs appear to be whistling a happy tune in the face of adversity.

According to the latest research from BGF, the UK and Ireland’s most active investor, more than 13,000 SMEs in the UK have experienced combined revenue growth of US$57 billion over the last three years, from a total revenue figure of US$443 billion currently.

The research calculates growth through changes in turnover and employee size among the UK’s private companies with revenues between US$4 million and US$195 million, a category of 13,286 businesses, 83 percent of which are based outside of London.

Over the last three years to January 2019, three-quarters of these businesses (74 percent) grew their turnover, with the group achieving 15 percent combined revenue growth during this period.

Collectively, these companies currently employ over 2.5m people. Around two-thirds (65 percent) are actively hiring, with an average 1,186 jobs created every week for the past three years and accounting for one in ten jobs created in the UK.

Stephen Welton, CEO of BGF, said that this group of businesses has made a huge contribution to the UK, both economically and through ideas and innovation, development, employment, and international relationships.

“Revenue growth like this, generated in such an unpredictable landscape, is a significant indicator of activity, productivity, and progress,” he said.

Welton said that right now, these businesses face unprecedented times and, with all eyes on Brexit, the rationale for deploying more growth capital is palpable.

“For the first time, we’re able to see a true and accurate picture of this group of SMEs that underpin prosperity and demonstrate that, regardless of the political turmoil, we remain a nation of enterprise, with companies across Britain and Ireland delivering the extraordinary, every single day,” he added.

Other highlights include:

  • Oxfordshire has the UK’s second-highest combined turnover growth in the UK (22 percent) and three-quarters of businesses in the county are hiring (75 percent)
  • London has the UK’s highest concentration of high-potential businesses (2,249), with companies in Westminster (585), City of London (413), Lambeth (162) and Barnet (113) making up around half the numbers
  • Cornwall has the largest proportion of hiring companies in the UK at 77 percent
  • Ayrshire in Scotland has the UK’s second highest proportion of growing companies by turnover (84 percent) and the UK’s third highest proportion of hiring businesses (75 percent)
  • Businesses in County Londonderry (Northern Ireland) boast the UK’s highest combined turnover growth since 2015 (26 percent) and the highest proportion of growing businesses (84 percent have grown their revenues in the last three years)