21 Sep 2016
THE UK'S decision to leave the EU will have a major effect on the future growth of North East business for many years to come.
That is the verdict from law firm Ward Hadaway, organiser of the definitive countdown to the fastest growing companies in the region, the Ward Hadaway Fastest 50.
The Fastest 50 has been tracing the fortunes of the fastest growing privately-owned businesses across the North East since 1998 when it was started by Ward Hadaway.
Since then, the list of the region’s pace-setting limited companies and the recipients of awards given each year to the fastest growing small, medium-sized and large businesses have been shaped by events ranging from high interest rates and a strong pound to the credit crunch and the global recession.
However, the Brexit vote in June of this year has the potential to shape future editions of the Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 more than any other occurrence in the 18-year history of the event.
Colin Hewitt (pictured), Partner and Head of Commercial at Ward Hadaway, said: “Whilst the Brexit vote occurred too late to have an influence on the 2016 Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 Awards, there is no doubt that it will have a major impact on the composition of future Fastest 50 lists for many years.
“The global market volatility which immediately followed the result of the referendum has dissipated somewhat and there are even signs of a ‘Brexit bounce’ in the wake of the fall in the pound’s value on the currency markets.
“In the short term, this is likely to be good news for exporters who are seeing demand for their goods and services rise as they are cheaper for overseas buyers. With the North East the only region in the UK which exports more than it imports, this would appear to be a positive development.
“However, this situation cannot last forever since the trading arrangements currently in place for UK companies selling abroad are likely to change once Britain leaves the EU. Also, the cost of capital equipment bought in by manufacturers to produce goods will be more expensive and so other costs will start to rise until the pound rises again.
“The vexed question of whether the UK will stay within the EU Single Market – and what happens if it does not – is also still to be addressed. This will have consequences not just for companies who concentrate on exports but for businesses across the region and the country as a whole.
“Naturally, this will have quite an effect on which companies will be able to grow their businesses quickest – and by how much – which is the essence of the Ward Hadaway Fastest 50.
“The companies that respond and adapt best are going to rise up the rankings over time – with the Fastest 50 looking over three years’ accounts, the performance trends will emerge over that period.”
As well as monitoring the health and progress of the North East economy via the Fastest 50 and helping clients deal with the impact of Brexit, Ward Hadaway has also been keeping tabs on global reaction to the referendum result – and how that could affect companies here.
The firm is a member of Geneva Group International – the world’s largest independent alliance of professional services firms – and invited fellow members around the globe to write about their reaction to Brexit and its potential effects on business in the UK and across the world.
Colin Hewitt said: “The results from Europe, the Far East, Australia and the US showed quite a wide variety of opinions, ranging from optimism about the potential for future increased trade to genuine fears about the future of foreign-owned companies in the UK. They can be seen in full on our website now.
“What the exercise also demonstrated is that Brexit is a subject of great interest to people working in the commercial sphere around the world and is something which they are all taking into account when considering future business and economic activity with the UK and British companies.
“No-one knows for certain what the future will hold as a result of the vote to leave the EU and uncertainty is always an unwelcome presence when it comes to making important business decisions.
“However, it is a fact that previous years of the Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 have seen companies emerging triumphant and successfully growing their businesses despite major challenges in their way and I believe the spirit and determination found in the North East business world will see the same happening in future years.”
This year’s Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 will be revealed in The Journal next week when the profit-making companies who have grown their turnover by the highest percentage will be listed in A to Z format.
Representatives from these companies, together with business leaders, will then gather for the Ward Hadaway Fastest 50 Awards 2016 on October 14 at BALTIC, the Centre for Contemporary Art, where the special guest and keynote speaker will be Sage Northern Europe Executive Vice President Jacqueline de Rojas.
Awards will be revealed for the fastest growing small business, the fastest growing medium-sized business and the fastest growing large business with one of these three named the overall fastest growing business in the North East for 2016.
* Find out more about the Fastest 50 Awards.