Welsh Business Exits: A Reflection on Resilience and Evolution


Over the past quarter-century, Welsh businesses have faced an array of global crises, yet they have demonstrated remarkable resilience.

The findings from our recent survey, which tracked company exits from 2000 to 2023, reveal compelling insights into the lifecycle of businesses in Wales.


This comprehensive study surveyed the fate of businesses over nearly 24 years, uncovering that only two out of three Welsh businesses reach the decade mark, and a mere one in twelve pass on to the third generation. These statistics might initially appear daunting, but they are a window into the dynamic nature of commerce and entrepreneurship.

The study specifically looked at various forms of business exits, including trade sales, management buyouts, IPOs, and more recently, employee ownership trusts. Amid significant global events such as the .com crash, 9/11, the Great Recession, Brexit, the Covid-19 pandemic, and geopolitical tensions like the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Welsh businesses have navigated through challenging waters. These events undoubtedly influence business succession and exit strategies, shaping the landscape in which businesses operate.

Interestingly, the survey highlighted that nearly 80% of businesses that changed ownership are still operating within Wales, debunking the myth that such transitions often lead to a company’s disappearance. This is a testament to the robustness of the local economy and the commitment of new ownership to maintain business operations within the region.

Regional disparities in business activities were also evident, with 80% of transactions occurring in South Wales. This predominance is reflective of the economic concentration in this region, but it also points to a need for more balanced economic development across the entire nation.

The survey data also showed that 2007 was a peak year for business exits, an interesting outlier in the timeline that may correlate with the pre-recession economic boom. Fast forward to today, despite the ongoing economic challenges and geopolitical tensions, there is an observable uptick in business activity, with a notable interest from overseas buyers and private equity firms.

This interest is partly driven by the search for growth through acquisitions rather than organic growth, spurred by current economic conditions and improving debt markets.

As we look ahead, the anticipated increase in business exits could be driven by an aging business owner demographic and pent-up demand from those who delayed their exit plans due to recent upheavals. This presents an opportunity for renewal and rejuvenation in the Welsh business landscape.

As we observe an increase in transitions, the focus should indeed be on sustainability,  ensuring businesses not only survive but thrive in the post-pandemic era. The landscape of Welsh business is evolving, and with it, new opportunities and challenges will emerge, shaping the future of our local economy.


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