UK businesses are buying more insurance and putting in place a clear operational plan to manage supply chains and distribution 

As Brexit negotiations between Boris Johnson and Ursula von der Leyen meander, the UK business community remains optimistic that a deal will be struck in the coming days, according to fintech business lender MarketFinance, which interviewed 5,000 UK business owners last week.

The majority (61%) of UK business owners are optimistic that the UK government will be able to strike a Brexit deal with their European counterparts in the coming days.

Looking ahead to life after Brexit, the biggest immediate challenges to follow  would be at the border. UK business owners ranked lack of clarity on new border control processes as the greatest challenge followed by delays in sending and receiving goods, and uncertainty about demand for goods and services in European markets.

On delays, most businesses (46%) anticipate delays of 1-2 weeks in processing goods at borders because of changes to processes.

Anil Stocker, chief executive at MarketFinance commented: “UK business owners have expressed their confidence that a deal will be done this month and that they will want to get on with business as usual quickly.”

”However, it will be important to get information out to the business community as quickly as possible. Given the difficulties businesses already anticipate during the winter trading period, we need to ensure they have all the means necessary to prepare for a bumpy start to the new year. No one wants to see these businesses derailed from kicking off in 2021”.

The survey revealed that the Christmas trading period is pivotal (in terms of revenue) for 85% of small businesses. However, most (54%) are anticipating a difficult time ahead. 

This said, two-thirds of businesses have tried to put some financial measures in place to survive the difficult trading period. Most (23%) have turned to a revolving credit facility or invoice finance, whilst others (14%) have turned to increasing their business insurance cover and (14%) renegotiating payments terms with suppliers.

In addition to this, business owners have targeted improving their social media presence and website (66%), putting in place a clear operational plan to manage supply chains and distribution (42%), as well as focusing on employee engagement (23%).

Stocker added: “The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been indiscriminate. Businesses were hurt in the summer and could take another blow this winter. The Christmas trading period is clearly an important time for UK businesses but given the bleak expectations, I would encourage all owners to seek counsel from their advisors and ensure they are braced for the coming months.”