Scots firms battle with impact of weak pound

The fall in the value of the pound has had a significant impact on nearly half of Scottish businesses, with the tourism sector and hotels being the main beneficiaries, according to an exclusive poll.

David Watt, executive director of the IoD in Scotland. Picture: Contributed
David Watt, executive director of the IoD in Scotland. Picture: Contributed

Delegates attending the Institute of Directors (IoD) Scotland annual conference at Gleneagles were asked if the slump in sterling following June's Brexit vote had resulted in a major impact on their business. Some 47 per cent said the effects had been "hard" with 46 per cent describing them as "soft". The remainder were unsure.

Business leaders were also asked in the poll conducted for The Scotsman if they expected a reduction in revenues as a direct result of Brexit. About 44 per cent replied yes, the same percentage said no and the others were unsure.

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Cassy Auld, real estate partner at law firm Weightmans LLP, said: "The fall in the value of the pound has had a mixed impact. Certain sectors such as tourism and hotels have benefited, and manufacturing businesses exporting products such as cars and whisky have also seen a short term boost.

"In the commercial real estate sector there has been something of a reshuffle with the large UK property funds retreating in some areas and being more cautious in approach and foreign investors regarding the UK as a cheaper market in which they have an edge on the competition.

"All service sectors have to be alert to market conditions and in touch with clients regularly to understand their challenges and opportunities and to respond in the most appropriate way."

David Watt, executive director of the IoD in Scotland, said: "While the debate over legal positions and timetables continues, those that create the jobs, make the products we use and provide the services on which we depend can have a significant impact on the future.

"Now is not the time to dither. Through strong leadership, we can build organisations and companies that are able to weather storms, and come out of this period of uncertainty ready to move forward."

The conference at the famous Gleneagles Hotel was the largest staged in more than ten years.

Chair Susan Deacon urged business leaders to step up to the plate during a period of upheaval and uncertainty.

Delivering the opening address she said: "In such changing and unpredictable circumstances, it can be hard to make sense of the world around us. But it is precisely at times like these that it is important for leaders to step up to the plate.

"Volatility and ambiguity also creates opportunity. Vacuums in decision making and direction are spaces waiting to be filled."