North West firms to miss out on £7.2bn of growth this year, claims new report

Accountancy firm Grant Thornton spoke to 80 businesses across the North West with annual turnover of between £10m and £1bn a year and identified significant barriers to growth. Tony McDonough reports

Carl Williams, North West managing partner at Grant Thornton


Businesses in Merseyside and across the North West could missing out on £7.2bn worth of growth in 2018, a new report claims.

Accountancy firm Grant Thornton spoke to 80 businesses across the North West (and 1,000 across the UK) with annual turnover of between £10m and £1bn a year.

It then added in “qualitative in-depth” interviews with senior business leaders across the region and concluded that barriers to growth would costing North West firms £7.2bn in GVA this year with total of £72.5bn for the UK as a whole.

Grant Thornton says the regional figure equates to creating a new economy the size of Greater Manchester or 1.4m new jobs. The region generated £165bn GVA in 2016 exceeded only by London and the South East.

The research suggests the majority of barriers to growth remain within businesses’ ability to influence. External forces feature lower on businesses’ list of top 20 concerns, such as that presented by Brexit (ranked 14th, at 22%) and regulation (ranked 16th at 20%). The top barriers include:

  • Technology (38%)
  • Brand, marketing and sales capability (34%)
  • Systems, processes and operating models (31%)
  • Talent, skills and innovation (31%)
  • Partnerships (31%)

The report also explores the interplay between growth barriers and businesses’ stated abilities to overcome these via growth accelerators. The analysis finds that businesses have scaled back their growth ambitions over the past year.

Whilst Brexit features as a barrier to growth, businesses seem more concerned with the lack of detail available to implement and execute their Brexit strategies.

There are also concerns around their leadership teams’ ability to make the most of new technology, that they could do more to explore the possibility of export growth and to market and brand their products more effectively.

Carl Williams, Grant Thornton managing partner in the North West, said: “In the North West, we’re lucky to be home to some truly exceptional and inspiring businesses, a number of which have contributed to this research.

“However, if we as a region are to unlock our economic potential, it’s clear that we must learn from these best-in-class companies by being brave and tenacious in seeking new opportunities to grow.”

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