29% of IoD members says Brexit may force them to relocate firms overseas

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A survey of 1,200 company directors by the Institute of Directors (IoD) has found that 29% feel that they may have no choice but to shift operations abroad as a result of Brexit. Anna Tobin reports

The survey of 1,200 IoD company directors found that 16% had already put relocation plans into action or were in the process of doing so and a further 13% are actively considering doing so. It’s not just big business taking this action either. Many large companies were found to have already moved their operations, and small businesses were found to be almost twice as likely to be actively considering the prospect.

The report found that two-thirds of exporters to the EU are looking to relocate overseas, and 40% of IoD members who are engaged with contingency planning have explored moving operations.

“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,” says Edwin Morgan, interim director general of the IoD. “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.

“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.

“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.”

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