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SPONSORED: Key Scottish industry sectors feel upbeat despite fears over Brexit


Four of Scotland’s most important industry sectors have entered the new decade feeling upbeat and confident despite significant concerns about the potential impact of Brexit, research carried out by CMS shows.

CMS surveyed over 100 prominent industry leaders from Scotland’s Renewable Energy, Life Sciences, Food & Drink, and Technology sectors including Allan MacAskill, CEO at Flotation Energy; Dave Tudor, managing director of Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre at CPI; Scott McEwan, CEO of Boston Networks; and James Withers, chief executive of Scotland Food & Drink.

A high proportion (69%) of these business leaders view Brexit as a threat while only 15% see it as an opportunity. 38% of those surveyed say they expect higher profits in the year ahead while 31% expect them to remain unchanged and only 17% are forecasting a decline.

In Scotland’s Renewable Energy sector, 80% of those involved in our research said they expected growth in revenues over the next three years while 60% are planning to increase investment in people and capital in that period.

There’s a similar outlook for Scottish Life Sciences where a significant number (80%) of business leaders are expecting to increase their workforce over the next year although a number did raise concerns about the availability of skilled workers due to the potential impact of Brexit.

A majority of Technology sector leaders also raised concerns over Brexit although more than half of those we spoke to expect turnover and profits to rise over the next three years. Around half are also planning recruitment drives in that period.

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Allan Wernham, managing director (Scotland), for CMS

Figures from Scotland’s Food & Drink appear to be less confident with 40% reporting a decrease in both turnover and profits over the past year. With EU nationals currently making up a quarter of the sector’s 120,000 workforce, there are serious concerns about Brexit. Only a third of business leaders say they expect profits and employee numbers to grow over the next three years.

The thoughts, concerns and aspirations of these four sectors, as highlighted in our new research, will be covered in more detail here in Business Insider in the weeks ahead.

One important area of focus for all these sectors that emerged from our discussions with industry leaders is technology. A clear majority (72%) of respondents believe new technology and innovation is important to the growth of their business. This sentiment is even stronger amongst those from companies with international premises as well as those involved in global trading. In the current economic climate where uncertainty has become a new normal, many leaders in these core sectors see investment in new and innovative technology as an essential requirement to drive future growth in their businesses.

It’s perhaps unsurprising to see there are significant concerns about the potential impact of Brexit. Our research does however also present a strong sense of optimism and confidence in these four sectors as many believe they will grow their businesses going forward creating further jobs and wealth.

To see the full CMS research report, visit www.cms.law/scotland

Allan Wernham is managing director (Scotland) at law firm CMS

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