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News release

UK mid-market fearful of third wave impact on international growth

As the vaccine rollout continues across the globe, but fears of a third wave in the UK increase, new research from leading business and financial adviser Grant Thornton UK LLP* finds that a third wave of the pandemic is the biggest concern for mid-market businesses looking to grow internationally. 

With changing restrictions and continued uncertainty for many, two thirds (66%) of 611 mid-market business leaders surveyed believe that it is harder to grow their business internationally today than it was pre-pandemic. 

The biggest challenges to international growth identified by Grant Thornton’s survey are: 

  • Third wave of Covid-19 (45%)
  • Political regime change (42%) 
  • Mobility of talent (39%) 
  • Lack of global economic growth (37%)

Dave Munton, Head of Clients and Markets at Grant Thornton UK LLP, said:

“The risk of a third wave of the virus in the UK adds another layer of complexity to all of the uncertainty that businesses are already dealing with. Some sectors, such as travel, tourism and hospitality, are obviously harder hit by the extension of restrictions, but ongoing changes to guidance and deadlines affect all businesses.   

“Whilst the UK’s success in vaccinating its own population adds a level of confidence on the domestic front, this needs to be mirrored internationally in order to be able to move forward collectively together. Businesses trading internationally are clearly finding the current operating environment difficult and will likely have been reassured by the G7 leaders’ pledge to ‘vaccinate the world’.

“Though a third and disruptive wave of the virus is the primary concern for mid-market leaders in this moment, businesses are also dealing with the ups and downs of UK economic forecasts, ongoing complexity in their supply chains, and trying to embed some of the positive changes to the ways of working that have been accelerated by remote working. 

“Our Business Outlook Tracker data, collected in bi-monthly surveys of mid-market leaders, shows that the mid-market is feeling slightly less optimistic about the outlook for the UK economy than they were at the beginning of this year (-4pp from January to June), although it also reveals that their expectations for profit levels have increased significantly (+18pp from January to June).  This tells us that leaders are confident in their own business’s ability to weather the changes, and accept constant, unpredictable change as a given."


*Censuswide (on behalf of Grant Thornton UK LLP) surveyed 611 senior decision makers in UK mid-market businesses, defined as £50 million - £500 million turnover, between 28 May – 8 June 2021.