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Overcoming growth barriers could boost region’s economy by £5 billion

East of England businesses could generate an extra £5 billion for the region’s economy by boosting productivity and overcoming barriers and by following the examples set by fast-growing businesses in the area, according to a report from Grant Thornton. The East is the fourth largest UK regional economy -worth £150 billion in 2016 - but it ranked only eighth for growth at 3.3 per cent.

“Given the considerable strengths of the region’s economy including a world-leading technology, pharmaceutical and renewable sectors, key ports and a strong food and beverage heritage, there are clearly missed opportunities for growth,” said Darren Bear, practice leader at Grant Thornton’s East of England office. “Realising this pent-up potential could prove transformational in making the East of England economy more productive and progressive at all levels and private sector businesses can play a vital role in leading this charge.”

Barriers cited in a survey for the report Planning for growth – don’t let uncertainty hold you back, included brand, marketing and sales capability (44%), quality of healthcare and general well-being (37%); technology (35%); partnerships and supply chains; business networks and international connections (33%), and systems, processes and operating models (30%). The report suggests more businesses adopt the characteristics of so-called ‘growth generator’ firms – growing at 20% or more last year and sustained growth for the last three.

This group of high growth businesses share a mindset based on four key characteristics:


-              Purpose driven – have a wider purpose above profitability, creating a strong culture

-              Invested in growth – focused on growth fuelled by external funding and M&A activity

-              Tech confident –  view technology as an accelerator of growth

-              Networked – look beyond home markets for growth opportunities


Darren Bear comments: “By looking at what the Growth Generators are doing differently from the rest of the business population, we can learn valuable lessons. Encouragingly, 91% of local respondents said their business had a clearly defined purpose, sharing one of the Growth Generators’ key attributes.


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