Small Businesses ‘Reluctant’ About International Expansion

New Research Suggests Just 25 Per Cent Intend To Increase Sales Abroad


Steven Beahan, Partner | +44 (0)114 294 7868

The majority of small businesses in the UK are reluctant to consider any overseas expansion or moves to boost their international sales, according to new research.

Baker Tilly’s poll of 750 UK based SMEs revealed that just 25 per cent are planning to try and increase their sales in other countries, with cost and concerns over a loss of control being put forward as reasons holding back many businesses.

The study found that 44 per cent of SMEs in London were active internationally, but this was found to be higher than in areas including Wales, where the equivalent figure stood at 20 per cent.

It was also revealed that manufacturing, food, drink and energy companies were found to have international or export operations, with more than half of manufacturing and energy firms intending to boost such operations further.

Rob Donaldson, head of M&A and Private Equity at Baker Tilly, said: "It is clear that many SMEs do not feel sufficiently comfortable coming out of a tough recession to take the risks implied by 'going international'.

"Overseas expansion can be a great opportunity for some, but there are pitfalls for the inexperienced or unprepared, and businesses would be wise to seek advice and take advantage of the networks and opportunities provided by UK Trade and Investment or the British Chambers of Commerce."

Expert Opinion
With the economy continuing to improve, small businesses are likely to see a growing number of opportunities become available to them in the coming months.

"International expansion and growth is likely to be something that a lot of SMEs will be given the chance to consider and, while such moves can seem daunting, it must be remembered that these steps can create huge opportunities.

"We would urge small businesses thinking about overseas plans to seek advice from various bodies, including those referenced in the article above. They should also speak to legal advisers about the implications of such a move and the key issues they will need to consider when taking this significant step."
Steven Beahan, Partner