Around 61% of and engineering SMEs want the UK to remain in the EU, and are more concerned than other SMEs about the potential negative impact of a Brexit on their businesses.
This is according to research by accountancy firm Moore Stephens, which also found that
55% of respondents think that leaving the EU would have a negative impact on their businesses, compared to just 46% of SME owners across all sectors.
Moore Stephens says that this strong pro-EU sentiment is largely due to the significant exposure many manufacturing and engineering businesses have to EU markets, both in terms of customer bases and supply chains.
It adds that the prospect of a Brexit is a key factor depressing manufacturers’ sentiment about their business outlook for the year.
Half (50%) of manufacturers and engineering companies expressed a lack of confidence that they will hit their 2016 profit targets, compared to just 32% of SME owners across all sectors. 44% fear they will miss their revenue targets, compared to just 27% for SMEs across the board.
Overall, 61% of manufacturing and engineering businesses felt reasonably buoyant about the general outlook for 2016, compared to 77% of SMEs generally.
Moore Stephens manufacturing and engineering partner Richard Willis says: “On the eve of the EU referendum, the prospect of Brexit and its consequent impact on trade is looming large for manufacturing and engineering businesses.
“This is a sector which arguably has more at stake than most others, given the increasingly cross-border nature of much of its trade. This is why we are seeing a far greater degree of cautiousness in their outlook than there is among SMEs across the board.”