Tees businesses forecast better 2021 despite Covid and Brexit

Tees Business Digital Media Pack

Business owners have given their thoughts after a Tees Business poll revealed that two-thirds expect to perform better next year compared to 2020, despite the ongoing threat of Covid and the looming threat of a no-deal Brexit.

Polls conducted on the Tees Business Twitter account revealed that 63% of respondents believe their business will perform “Better” in 2021 compared to 2020 – though a sizeable 22% believe their business will perform “worse” next year.

Asked about the poll results, Jane Armitage, managing partner (commercial property) at Stockton-headquartered Jacksons Law Firm, said: “It is encouraging to see so many Tees businesses feeling more optimistic about 2021, although this might reflect for some how hard they have found 2020.

“At Jacksons, we feel very lucky that 2020 has been a good year for us but we are optimistic 2021 can be even better and certainly less complicated! Much effort has been made this year by many businesses in this region to lay the foundations for a great 2021 and we are excited to work with them on their plans.”

Karl Pemberton, managing partner at Stockton-based Active Chartered Financial Planners, said: “These results are extremely pleasing and I don’t think anyone would have argued if they were much lower.

“Businesses have proven what they’re capable of this year, so although 2021 won’t be without its challenges, many have the resilience – and now experience – to get through them a little easier. We’re certainly more optimistic about 2021 than we were at the mid-year point.”

Gary Dawson, managing director of Middlesbrough’s AV Dawson, said: “I’m not surprised that 63% of Teesside businesses think 2021 will be better. Whether good or bad, they can finally see an end to uncertainties created by Brexit and Covid. Teessiders have always been able to bounce back and face up to the challenges they are presented with.”

“For AV Dawson, Port of Middlesbrough 2021 will see the realisation of years of focused development into offshore wind, waste recycling and automotive. This will further cement our future in shipping, rail and road transport, and equally our passion and commitment to Middlesbrough and the River Tees. The outcome of the freeport and Brexit are extremely important for us, but we have strategies to deal with every outcome.”

Bill Scott MBE, managing director of Port Clarence-based Wilton Group, said: “Thankfully, in terms of Wilton Group, despite Covid and lockdowns, 2020 is in line with all expectations and we expect that 2021 will continue on the same vein, whether we get a deal or not.

“It’s very pleasing that 63% of local businesses are positive and believe that their businesses will perform better in 2021. For those that are less positive, we hope they can seek support sooner rather than later.”

Garry Lofthouse, director of Stokesley-based Applied Integration, said: “The world has faced unprecedented changes in 2020. Covid has focused businesses to make operational changes, while Brexit has the potential to fundamentally reshape the UK economy.

“UK companies continue to drive reduced emissions while increasing efficiencies. Being the optimist, these important measures will hopefully provide us with the platform to embrace new opportunities arising from economic improvements throughout 2021.”

James Griffiths, managing director of Middlesbrough firm Industrial & Marine Hydraulics, added: “It’s encouraging to see this level of confidence in the Teesside business community as we look at what 2021 might bring. At IMH, we feel that after navigating through one of the most challenging years in our history – and learning a lot in the process – we can forge ahead in 2021.”

Asked in another poll how well they believed the Boris Johnson’s government had handled Brexit, more than half responded “Poorly”, with only 7% giving a response of “Very well”.

The overall results in the poll were: Poorly 56%; Not well 17%; Quite well 20%; Very well 7%.

In a third Tees Business Twitter poll, 12% of those who had voted Leave in the Brexit referendum admitted that they would now vote Remain. Vice-versa, 4% of those who said they voted Remain in the referendum said they would now vote Leave.

The majority of respondents (58%) said they had both voted Remain and would still vote Remain, while 26% revealed they had voted Leave and their vote would stay the same if there was referendum tomorrow.