Nearly three quarters of UK SMEs have abandoned plans to expand overseas due to sky-high trading costs, according to new research.
The findings were contained in a survey which quizzed industry chiefs about their plans for expansion, ambitions for the year ahead and concerns around the economy.
Resources and training were cited as a barrier to international trade. 68 per cent of those polled said that they feel their business lacks the tech infrastructure to operate in international markets. Meanwhile 72 per cent said that their company does not have the capabilities to manage foreign payments.
SME owners were also concerned around a lack of skills for expansion, with 65 per cent saying they lacked the financial expertise to open an office overseas.
Company owners also felt their bank could do more to help. 72 per cent of business owners said their bank provides very limited support around international payments. Meanwhile 72 per cent said that transfer fees are too high and should be reduced for SMEs.
A total of 70 per cent said that financial predictability is critical for their business, a factor which has reduced enthusiasm for international expansion.
Neh Thaker, co-founder, HedgeFlows, which commissioned the research, comments: “SMEs are the beating heart of the UK economy, creating jobs and driving crucial growth in uncertain times. It’s absurd that so many of our most ambitious and fast-growing businesses feel unable to expand internationally due to a lack of support and access to the tools they need to grow.
“The time has come to equip SMEs with a level playing field to expand internationally, giving them access to a suite of services required to manage overseas transactions, currency conversions and cashflows. These privileges are already enjoyed by larger enterprises and should be available to businesses of all sizes.”