As speculation mounts over the content of this year’s Autumn Statement, the boss of one of the North East’s best known food companies has called for further incentives to help UK businesses innovate and focus on their R&D.
The Stokesley-headquartered Quorn Foods, a global leader in meat alternatives, has increased sales by 20% over the last two years and credits positive steps taken by the Government - including the introduction of the Patent Box and above-the-line R&D tax credit - with creating a welcoming business environment for innovation in the UK.
Now, the successful exporter is asking Chancellor George Osborne to build on such achievements by helping UK businesses tap into demand from emerging markets for British brands and goods.
The calls come as the company looks to embark on an ambitious programme of global expansion, building on the 15 international markets in which its products are currently sold.
Last month, it officially launched in Germany, Denmark and Finland and is currently evaluating several other European markets, including Spain and France.
Quorn chief executive Kevin Brennan said: “As a business, we’re seeing huge growth opportunities as people globally are rethinking their meat eating habits and becoming more aware of the ethical, health and environmental benefits offered by alternative sources of protein such as Quorn.
“We’ve recently expanded into three new international markets and we have plans to expand into several more over the course of the next few years, as we look to transform Quorn into a $1bn [£640m] business, four to five times its current size.
“Such an ambitious programme of international growth would have been much harder had it not been for the steps taken by the Government to create a positive environment for innovation and export in the UK.
“However, it’s vital that the Government maintains momentum and protects and builds on the valuable tax reliefs currently in place to further encourage innovation and enterprise, through moves such as expanding the R&D tax credit.”
As is often the case, The Autumn Statement, due to take place tomorrow, is already fuelling considerable debate among commentators and businesses throughout the UK.
According to Tait Walker tax partner, Alastair Wilson, this year’s is likely to be driven by a “more populist approach” in the run-up to the General Election, the emphasis being on increasing the take home pay of as many voters as possible, so they feel their standards of living are improving.
Among his wish list, however, are increased incentives for job creation and training for SMEs, the growth of tax incentives for investment in SMEs, and the ability to provide more “tailored” local incentives within the English regions.
Rob Charlton, chief executive of the Newcastle-headquartered Space Architecture, likewise speculated: “It is unlikely there will be any major changes in strategy as the Chancellor has set out his plan clearly and there is little room for movement.
“The deficit had not reduced as much as had previously been hoped so if anything is to change it will be further cuts to the public sector.
“He may consider small incentives for business providing tax relief for growth strategies.
“There may also be announcements of major infrastructure investment; however, this is longer-term and will not be new money. These types of announcement are often typical before an election.”