Brexit fuels growth ambitions for Lincolnshire carpet fitters

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A vote for Brexit has given an ambitious boost to a Lincolnshire business which is now looking at expanding into a global market, says the owner of Grimsby-based Carpet Runners UK.

Around 45% of the UK SMEs and mid-market businesses believe triggering of Article 50 will have a positive impact on their business ambitions, according to a new report commissioned by Lloyds National Business Awards.

It shows that 60% of these businesses believe that ambition is the biggest driver of their business success.

Article 50 will be triggered on March 29, which will open new negotiations to new markets in anticipation of the UK leaving the European Union.

It is hoped that Brexit will bring the UK’s new foreign trade stance into the spotlight, reducing business constraints and perceived bureaucracy.

Myles Shaw, owner of Grimsby-based Carpet Runners UK

Myles Shaw, owner of Carpet Runners said: “Quite simply, ‘Brexit’ has been fantastic for us.

“Rather than focusing on what we will lose (like the rest of the country seem to be doing), I have been focusing on where we can gain.”

“I thought it would just effect the banks and PLCs and all of a sudden our European sales just dropped off.

“A couple of days later our US sales soared. I looked at it as though one door was closing but another one opened.

“I started looking into why the American orders were coming to us and realised it was down to the decreasing value of the pound against the dollar, which made it more affordable for the US population.

“Plus Donald Trump taking the presidency and speaking of a UK/US trade deal would have helped the American consumers have confidence in purchasing from us.

“All of a sudden we were more attractive to the outside world.”

“It’s sad that we have lost sales in EU but we have the rest of the world including Australia, America & Canada. So we decided we would launch a Carpet Runners USA website, which went live two days ago.”

Myles expects to produce a turnover of £1 million in the first 12 months of selling to America, whilst the company’s current UK turnover in 2016 was £1.4 million.

“We want to try and capitalise on the market there now, which will supersede what we’ve lost from EU,” he said.

“We wanted to make it work well for us and we are now looking at launching in Australia and Canada too.

“Once we’re out of the EU and we know what trade deals are being set up we will be able to try and build up sales in Europe again.”

In comparison to the number of small-to-mid-market businesses that believe the EU exit will have a positive impact on their business, 14% fear there could be a negative effect with Britain being left alone on the world stage and 11% of business leaders also believe Britain might not be able to survive on its own.

The research also showed that just under half of SMEs and mid-market businesses have already experienced higher ambition levels in the last year with only 3% feeling less ambitious.

A challenging marketplace seems to be the main driver amongst 40% of these businesses. Family and friends were also found to be the biggest catalyst for spurring on these ambitions followed by having a clear business strategy.

Myles added: “In a time of uncertainty you need to concentrate on what you know. We have already seen a price increase from our suppliers in Europe because of weak currency rates.

“Our turnover since Brexit has increased. If the pound gets stronger, does that mean that sales will drop in the US? We don’t know but business is about evolving and adapting to the climate that we’re in.

“What we should be looking to do is maximising opportunities as much as possible, and that is exactly what we are doing.

“For me personally, I like the unknown – it’s exciting. When your back’s against the wall, you come up with the best ideas.”