Three fifths of East Midlands mid-market businesses determined to grow despite uncertain economic outlook

Mid-market businesses across the East Midlands remain ambitious and confident in their growth prospects despite an unstable economic landscape and an unsupportive funding environment, according to new research from national law firm Mills & Reeve.

The study, Defying Gravity – based on the opinions of 500 leaders of mid-market businesses in the UK – reveals that 85% of East Midlands businesses plan to increase turnover in this financial year (2017/18) by an average of 23%, with three fifths (60%) of those aiming to grow willing to bet their house on meeting this target.

This is not unrealistic, with the new research also revealing that just over two thirds (68%) of mid-market businesses in the region grew turnover last year at an impressive average of 17%.

There are a number of concerns, however. Three fifths (60%) of mid-market business leaders do not believe that the economy is strong and stable; with over half (55%) worried that economic uncertainty will disproportionately affect the mid-market.

External funding is also found to be lacking: just over three fifths (62%) of mid-market leaders said that there are few attractive finance options available for established businesses like theirs.

Almost half (48%) of business leaders stated that they don’t believe mid-market finance is fit for purpose, and more than two thirds (65%) believe that the UK funding environment is great for start-ups, but not for mid-market firms.

Claire Clarke, managing partner at Mills & Reeve, comments: “Despite very real challenges, it is encouraging to see mid-market leaders remaining defiantly ambitious about growth, determined to beat market conditions and to hold their position as the driving force of the British economy.

“But these businesses are being hindered in their efforts to realise their ambitions. Accessing growth finance suited to mid-market needs is a significant challenge, and the unstable economic and political landscape is causing some businesses to refrain from making the investment necessary to grow.”

The findings are released today ahead of a series of reports from Mills & Reeve championing the mid-market and exploring the current challenges faced by business leaders.

Jayne Hussey, head of mid-market at Mills & Reeve, adds: “The mid-market is the unsung powerhouse of the UK economy, and we are hopeful that medium-sized businesses can continue to overcome the barriers to growth formed by uncertainty. The events of the recent past may have rocked the nation’s confidence, but the resilience, strength and ambition of mid-market business leaders appears to remain intact.”

Defying Gravity follows Full Scale Ahead, a 2015 study that explored paths to growth for mid-market businesses and the question of whether to scale or sell.

For more information and to download the full Defying Gravity report, visit