There have been a number of challenges facing Scottish businesses over the past year, for example:
- The Brexit process has led to uncertainty in relation to both potential labour shortages in certain sectors and the trade position for Scottish goods and services post-Brexit; and
- The effects of the decline in the oil and gas sector have presented huge challenges to the Scottish economy and many businesses have been affected as a result.
Despite these challenges, the Scottish business community has continued to push forward.
There has been a rise in the number of businesses operating in Scotland and, according to the Scottish Government, this year has seen the highest number of private sector enterprises and VAT/PAYE registered businesses operating in Scotland since 2000. This has resulted in the creation of a large number of jobs and, as a result, unemployment is at a 25 year low.
This is also demonstrated by the number of mid-market and larger deals over the last couple of years, including significant transactions such as the acquisition of Scottish company Skyscanner by the Chinese travel service provider Ctrip and the Aberdeen City Council bond issue, a landmark transaction in Scotland, on which Brodies advised.
The oil price has also regained some stability which has encouraged businesses in the north-east to expand and re-visit projects and deals previously on hold. Brodies have been involved in a number of significant UKCS deals.
Looking back on the past couple of years, it seems that many Scottish businesses are undeterred by the social and political challenges they have faced, and this is likely to continue in the year ahead.
It is likely that inward investment will continue to feature, but equally many companies are seeking our services to expand their business through new work streams and seeking an international presence.
Similarly, it is likely that key exported products and services will continue to be utilised around the world.
In addition, the Scottish Government has made funding available to Scottish Enterprise under the Scottish Growth Scheme which is likely to have huge benefits on Scottish businesses eligible for the fund.
Scotland also has world-renowned educational establishments and contributes extremely talented people not only to the Scottish economy and the Scottish business community, but globally.
There will no doubt be challenges over the coming year as a result of Brexit. However, there is a lot for Scottish businesses to be optimistic about and it is important for businesses to plan ahead for these challenges and focus on the opportunities presented.