UK firms expect their closer sustainability focus to result in growth, new research shows

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The majority of UK companies expect greater focus on sustainability to result in a growth of sales over the next year, according to new research from HSBC UK.

The bank’s latest Navigator report, which surveyed more than 10,000 businesses in 39 markets with 1,000 of those in the UK, found more than three quarters (78%) of UK firms expect sales to grow over the next year as a result of increased focus on sustainability.

Rob King, HSBC UK Head of Sustainable Finance, commented on the findings: “It’s extremely encouraging to see such a positive set of results following an unprecedented year faced by businesses across the country.

“The report tells us that firms genuinely want to build back better and have sustainability and the move to a net zero economy right at the top of their priority lists as they look to adapt their operations to the ‘new normal’.

“We see consumers having increasing expectations when it comes to sustainability and the companies they engage with and this greater focus on sustainability by businesses will help them to build their reputations and make better connections to their customers.

“But there is still work to do. The Government announced its Green Industrial Revolution plan last month and our research suggests that firms will need further support and incentives as they strive to reach these lofty goals.”

The research also found that three quarters (75%) of UK businesses now have metrics in place to measure environmental sustainability, up from 62% in 2019.

This includes 28% measuring energy usage, 21% measuring carbon emissions and 20% measuring packaging materials and waste.

And almost three quarters (73%) of British businesses plan to introduce net zero emissions goals to their own operations and across their supply chains.

Almost nine in ten (86%) UK businesses believe there are multiple opportunities to improve their environmental and ethical sustainability, most notably by introducing new ways of working and promoting employee well-being.

More than two fifths (42%) of firms say that government incentives will help them to become more sustainable in the future followed by workforce engagement or initiatives (31%) and green financing (29%).

Mr King added: “Our research shows that businesses believe that sustainable practices will have a positive impact not only on their reputation but also their performance and profitability.

“With the right support and incentives UK businesses can deliver on their targets and achieve their sustainability ambitions, making a difference to their employees, customers and the global society.”