MANAGERS of small and medium sized businesses are more pessimistic about the impact of Brexit than their larger counterparts, with smaller businesses also claiming to be less prepared for the UK’s impending departure from the European Union.

According to a survey of 250 Scottish businesses carried out by law firm Anderson Strathern, 57 per cent of SMEs believe Brexit will be negative for their company while just 41% of senior managers at larger corporates do.

Despite this, just 56% of SMEs said they were prepared for the eventuality of a no-deal Brexit while 68% of large businesses are.

Anderson Strathern director Neil Amner said the figures were worrying in relation to smaller firms, particularly as 26% of managers in that grouping said they had not yet started assessing what the risk to their business would be.

Overall, the inability to hire staff from the EU was of major concern to survey participants, with 35% of all respondents saying they rely heavily on being able to recruit EU nationals and 54% saying they felt they would encounter difficulties in attracting staff from the EU. Glasgow-based businesses said they are more reliant on the EU as a key market than Edinburgh-based companies, at 59% against 48%.

Despite the overall pessimism, the majority of larger firms said they felt optimistic about future growth, with 68% saying that in the long term Brexit would likely create new opportunities, particularly in markets such as China and the US.

“Over time we get to a point, around five years after the UK leaves the EU, whether on a negotiated or a no-deal basis, by which there is almost a 50-50 call about whether Brexit is for the better or not,” Mr Amner said.