The research, which involved talking to 900 senior decision makers, found that 43 per cent had pivoted their product or service since the lockdown began, and that rose to 57% among large firms with over 250 employees.
A quarter (24%) of companies have begun selling to new demographics of customers since the lockdown began in March. While 42% of UK businesses export their products or services globally, due to the difficult trading conditions resulting from coronavirus, 57% said that they were now considering expansion into new international markets in the months ahead. A further 44% said that Brexit had already prompted them to explore new export opportunities outside of the Single Market.
Almost half (45%) of private sector organisations said the pandemic has made them realise they are overly reliant on one particular marketplace – with that figure rising to 58% among large businesses (250+ employees)
A slim majority (51%) of decision-makers believe a lack of knowledge about international markets prevented their organisation from expanding outside the UK, while 43% felt the cost of doing so would be prohibitively high for them to make a profit from the move.
Commenting on the findings Atul Bhakta, CEO of One World Express, said: “At a time when the world has been turned upside down, it is unwise for business leaders to believe they can simply “keep calm and carry on”. So, it is positive to see many companies taking bold action in the midst of the pandemic.”
And bold action will be critical for many companies as the impact of Covid-19 recedes and the economic damage and dislocation caused becomes more apparent.
With forecasts that the UK and the rest of Europe could see an economic contraction in excess of 8-10 per cent in 2020, companies will need to look further afield. Countries have been affected by the virus’ spread in different ways so, as the report suggests, businesses that sell to a broader range of markets will be giving themselves the best possible chance to succeed.
Bhakta makes the point that: “While many UK business believe expanding into international markets would be too complicated or costly, this is not the case. Selling products or services cross-border is both simple and affordable, as long as the prepares thoroughly and finds the right partners.”