LONDON: September 26, 2016. A KPMG survey in July of 100 UK CEOs suggests many are considering relocating operations or headquarters as a result of the Brexit vote to leave the EU.
Despite 72 percent voting to remain, the majority of CEOs felt that a division in society between big business and the general public contributed to the leave result, including over a third who believed this "to a great extent". Similarly, a high proportion felt that UK big business has a responsibility to re-establish trust and communication with the general public, according to KPMG.
"Our research shows that business leaders feel the trust which was broken by the 2008 crash is far from repaired," said KPMG UK chairman Simon Collins. "Every CEO I know is worried about this and determined to rebuild trust. Many CEOs are working hard with their leadership teams to include a much broader section of society through apprenticeship schemes."
The survey of CEOs from companies with revenues ranging between £100 million and £1 billion found the majority was confident about the future growth of Britain, the global economy and their own businesses in the next three years.
However over half believe the UK's ability to do effective business with other trading partners will be hindered after leaving the EU.
Collins added: "CEOs are reacting to the prevailing uncertainty with contingency planning. In particular, the majority said they are considering relocating their headquarters or operations outside the UK. In our own work, we have seen international clients who had been considering basing [their] European headquarters in the UK, opt for Ireland instead."
He warned against Brexit contingency planning becoming 'Plan A', saying that while relocating a head office "hits the headlines", businesses could start moving operations from the UK with little public attention.
"We hear it time and time again that business needs certainty. Policy makers should be really concerned about a leaching of British business abroad and should engage with business early to understand what assurances they can offer and closely monitor any shifts overseas," he declared.