Scottish Small Business 'Lagging Behind UK'

26 May 2016, 08:17 | Updated: 26 May 2016, 08:18

Less than half of Scotland's smaller firms have done business internationally, leaving them lagging behind the UK as a whole, according to research.

A study carried out for money transfer service TransferWise for Business found only 43% of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have done so.

This compares with a UK average of 60%, and 76% for London.

TransferWise said Scottish businesses are "missing out on the financial rewards which come with overseas trade''.

For those Scottish SMEs which are looking internationally, Western Europe is the main focus. A fifth (19%) of all SMEs in Scotland said they rely on some form of business with the region.

Europe is also a key trading partner for smaller UK firms, with 71% of the UK's international SMEs having done business in Western Europe, and a third (33%) in Eastern Europe.

Of the three-fifths of UK SMEs that have done some form of business overseas, more than three-quarters, 76%, said it made them more profitable.

Nilan Peiris, of TransferWise, said: "SMEs make-up 99% of all UK businesses - they're the engine of the UK economy. Going global can be a solution to many of the problems UK SMEs face, from finding a new customer base to sourcing cheaper materials or finding key business skills less available in the UK.

"It can be daunting for a small business to take the leap and go global, but our research proves that SMEs that do so are much more likely to be profitable and would encourage fellow UK SMEs to do the same.''

The research was carried out for TransferWise by YouGov.

The total sample size for the whole of the UK was 656 SME senior decision makers - 56 in Scotland - and the figures have been weighted. The fieldwork was carried out online between May 3 and 9.