West Midlands’ mid-market firms most growth confident in England

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Mid-market businesses in the West Midlands remain ambitious and confident in their growth prospects despite an unstable economic landscape and a challenging funding environment, according to new research.

The Mills & Reeve study, Defying Gravity, is based on the opinions of 500 leaders of mid-market businesses across the UK.

It reveals that 90% of mid-market businesses in the West Midlands plan to increase turnover in this financial year (2017/18) by an average of 25%, and more than three quarters of those aiming to grow (76%) are willing to bet their house on meeting this target.

This level of confidence outweighs that of the region’s English counterparts – including London.

However, the law firm contests that this level of ambition is not unrealistic.

According to its research almost one third (28%) of mid-market businesses in the West Midlands grew turnover by more than 20% last year.

Nevertheless, there are a number of concerns.

Just over half (56%) of mid-market business leaders do not believe the economy is strong and stable, with the same percentage also worried that economic uncertainty will disproportionately affect the mid-market.

External funding is found to be lacking too. The same percentage (56%) of mid-market leaders believes their company cannot achieve full potential without better long-term finance options being available.

More than half (52%) of business leaders stated that they did not believe mid-market finance was fit for purpose, and 52% believe that the UK funding environment is great for start-ups, but not for mid-market firms.

Steve Allen, head of the Birmingham office at Mills & Reeve, said: “Against a backdrop of an uncertain economic landscape and a rhetoric that suggests business leaders must shore up, manage risk and protect themselves ahead of the UK’s uncoupling with the EU, the mid-market business community in the West Midlands remains both positive and resilient.

“While there are some clear challenges surrounding access to finance for these well-established firms, this is not putting the brakes on their growth plans, with leaders instead choosing to forge ahead and invest in people, innovation and growing their export portfolio.”

The findings come ahead of a series of reports from Mills & Reeve championing the mid-market and exploring the current challenges faced by business leaders. The research goes on to reveal a perceived lack of support from Government, with two thirds (66%) of mid-market businesses in the region sharing frustration about the Government presenting obstacles to growth.

Jayne Hussey, head of mid-market at Mills & Reeve, added: “The mid-market is the unsung powerhouse of the UK economy, and we are hopeful that medium-sized businesses can continue to overcome the barriers to growth formed by uncertainty. The events of the recent past may have rocked the nation’s confidence, but the resilience, strength and ambition of mid-market business leaders appears to remain intact.”