UK employers aiming for international growth, says survey

UK employers aiming for international growth, says survey

A sixth of UK employers look to expand into Europe within the next two years.

Growing business confidence, a healthier jobs market and a better year all-round for firms in the UK have given companies the drive to expand into Europe, according to the latest JobsOutlook survey from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

The question of European expansion was posed to 200 employers and 16 per cent are thinking about searching for business opportunities in Europe over the next two years. This could potentially mean just under a third of organisations in the UK may be working overseas by late 2016, including businesses already active abroad and those with more far-reaching international plans.

Kevin Green, the REC chief executive, points out that 2014 has been a good year for UK employers and the return of business confidence means “many [UK employers] are now looking beyond the UK for opportunities overseas”.

He also notes the positive outlook could mean “a potential doubling of the number of UK companies doing business beyond our shores in the next two years”.

The data from the survey shows the European market remains a key potential growth zone, despite its faltering economic recovery, as the bulk of firms from the UK “want to build their brands in the European market”, said Mr Green.

“It also highlights the ambition and growing confidence of UK businesses as our economy and labour markets both continue to perform well at home”, he added.

The European Union (EU) of 28 member countries contains over 500 million potential customers and the EU’s single market makes it an attractive environment to do business in. However, finding opportunities for growth abroad can be complicated by a number of factors.

Further results show that most respondents believe the biggest barrier to an expansion overseas is that “international regulation is too complex”. This is closely followed by difficulties in finding skilled employees, the cost of expansion, and the rising prices of business rates or international taxes.

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