Essex business leaders ‘going for growth’ despite Brexit uncertainty

Paul Dearsley, partner at Grant Thornton’s Chelmsford office, with Grant Thornton director Trevor Li

Paul Dearsley, partner at Grant Thorntons Chelmsford office, with Grant Thornton director Trevor Ling at the launch of Essex Limited 2017. Picture: LEAH JOHNSTON/GRANT THORNTON - Credit: Leah Johnston/Grant Thornton

Essex business leaders say they remain optimistic about the future and expect staff numbers and profits to rise, in spite of ongoing Brexit uncertainty.

Speaking ahead of the unveiling of the results of an annual in-depth analysis of the county’s 100 largest firms, panellists taking part in the launch of the 2017 Essex Ltd report on November 21 said they were gearing up for growth.

The Grant Thornton business barometer, which will be unveiled to more than 100 local business leaders at a breakfast event at Stock Brook Country Club in Stock, offers a breakdown of the data by sector and identifies the county’s 50 fastest growing companies.

Panellists Chris Gallop, managing director of Colchester-based facilities management group Cloudfm, Brigette Bard, director of BioSure in Nazeing which develops medical self-testing kits, and Simon Reed, boss at Witham-based freight and logistics firm Simarco Worldwide, said the market still offered opportunities.

Mr Gallop said growth remained an explicit part of his firm’s business plan. “To date the Brexit vote has had little impact due to our limited exposure to foreign exchange but as negotiations take shape, we may see concerned customers return to cost as their driving factor. However, having started the business during the last recession, we are well able to deal with this type of market change.”

Mr Reed was positive about the immediate future, although he did express concerns over the longer term impact of Brexit. “As we rely heavily on exports, I do anticipate challenges post 2019 but our industry is well used to adversity and I’m confident we will continue to adapt well to what lies ahead.”

Ms Bard said her business planned to increase headcount by 50% over the coming year.

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“As some of our roles are highly specialised, we do employ a number of remote workers but situated on the outskirts of London, we can also benefit from the wealth of skills available there,” she said.

“However, we still can’t access the business support and investment opportunities open to London firms and find that limited resources remain in Essex for smaller, high growth businesses.”

Grant Thornton’s Paul Dearsley welcomed the positive achievements of Essex firms.

“It will be valuable to see how the county’s firms have weathered the post Brexit vote climate and how well placed they are to move forward as the full impact of the UK’s exit date from the EU approaches,” he said.

“The report will also further inform our ongoing work to help create a more progressive and productive local economy at all levels and we look forward to further insights from Brigette, Simon and Chris during the panel discussion.”

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