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The trend was not restricted to big businesses. While more large companies had already moved operations, small firms were almost twice as likely to be now actively considering the prospect, said the report by the Institute of Directors (IoD).
"It brings no pleasure to reveal these worrying signs, but we can no more ignore the real consequences of delay and confusion than business leaders can ignore the hard choices that they face in protecting their companies. Change is a necessary and often positive part of doing business, but the unavoidable disruption and increased trade barriers that no-deal would bring are entirely unproductive," Edwin Morgan, interim director general of IoD, said.
The survey revealed that two-thirds of exporters to the EU were looking to relocate overseas, and 4 in 10 IoD members who are engaged with contingency planning have explored moving operations. The EU was by far the most commonly-identified destination for firms looking to move or set up operations abroad to deal with Brexit.
"While the actions of big companies have been making headlines, these figures suggest that smaller enterprises are increasingly considering taking the serious step of moving some operations abroad. For these firms, typically with tighter resources, to be thinking about such a costly course of action makes clear the precarious position they are in," explained Morgan.
"We still have a chance to stem the flow, and provide enough certainty to the firms that are considering moving but haven’t yet done so. The UK’s hard-won reputation as a stable, predictable environment for enterprise is being chipped away. Our political leaders must keep this in the front of their minds as we enter this critical phase of negotiations," he concluded. (RR)
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