West Midlands Businesses Believe In ‘ Brand Britain’

11 May 2023

iStock 1082929466 West Midlands Businesses Believe In ' Brand Britain'
Cargo containers with European Union and British flags reflecting Brexit and restrictions in export and import

As the UK increasingly looks abroad for trade deals and investment opportunities, mid-market businesses in the West Midlands confirm that they are confident in the international appeal of British products and services. 

In Grant Thornton’s latest Business Outlook Tracker* survey, almost two thirds of the business leaders in the West Midlands (60%) said that Brand Britain is helpful to UK firms when trading internationally. 

While confidence in the nation’s overseas perception was lower in the region compared to the national average of 66%, 64% of the region’s business leaders did believe the West Midlands has an effective and consistent strategy to attract global investments. The region has been named as one of the potential homes of the government’s new investment zones.  

The survey showed that Britain’s ability to host large events with global audiences has helped give the nation a strong brand among international markets. 74% agreed that events such as this week’s Eurovision or last year’s highly successful Commonwealth Games in Birmingham have given Brand Britain a global boost. 

Alongside notable events and regional strategies, domestic politics has influenced how the UK is viewed in other countries. When questioned about the impact of Brexit, over two thirds (68%) agreed that it had strengthened Brand Britain and only 8% disagreed.  

The positive view of Brand Britain aligns with the fact that businesses have international growth high on their agenda. In the survey, 76% of respondents in the West Midlands said they would invest either more or the same in international growth over the next six months.  

James Brown, Managing Partner in the East & Central region at Grant Thornton UK LLP, said: “The appeal of Brand Britain has always been strong and it’s great to see that West Midlands business leaders recognise it as a strong card they can play to achieve international growth. Last year’s Commonwealth Games in Birmingham contributed at least £870 million to the UK economy and helped promote our region on the global stage, putting us in the shop window for further investment. Coventry’s year as City of Culture was also a triumph, drawing attention to the city’s cultural heritage and its status as a leader in automotives. 

“This year, it’s great to see events like Eurovision elsewhere in the country really help draw attention to the UK and provide an opportunity to showcase the nation’s capabilities on a global stage. Looking ahead, it is brilliant to see that Villa Park has been chosen as one the stadiums that form part of the joint UK bid for Euro 2028. Such international visibility combined with our well-known manufacturing prowess really states our case as a fantastic location for investment.  

“Developments such as the Windsor framework and potential new trade deals makes exporting even more appealing. That’s not to say that international expansion is easy, as it involves a lot of careful planning to navigate customs and trade agreements. It’s important to understand these complexities and to have the right information, structures and support in place. At Grant Thornton, our international network of member firms means we’re well placed to provide local guidance and valuable market insights.” 

Notes to editors 

*The Grant Thornton Business Outlook Tracker is a bi-monthly survey of mid-market businesses. Censuswide (on behalf of Grant Thornton UK LLP) surveyed 50 senior decision makers in West Midlands mid-market businesses between 5 – 17 April 2023. The UK mid-market is defined as companies with an annual turnover between £50 million – £500 million. 


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