A survey of UK companies has found more than half are now considering expanding into new global markets as a result of Covid-19.

The findings, commissioned by logistics and e-commerce provider One World Express, also showed that 45% of firms said the pandemic had made them realise they were overly reliant on one market.

Of the 924 managers, founders and owners surveyed, 57% said they were thinking about seeking out new markets abroad and 44% said they were considering looking outside the single market due to Brexit.

A further 43% had shifted their service or product offering since lockdown began, a figure that rose to 57% among firms with more than 250 employees; and 24% were now selling to new demographics of customers.

A slim majority (51%) believe that a lack of knowledge about international markets was preventing them from expanding outside of the UK and 43% said the cost of doing so would be prohibitively high.

The RHA said that although it had been aware of some businesses considering moving their operations out to Europe in response to Brexit, it was unaware of how many had explored this idea further.

Last month, the Hazchem Network’s MD Robert Symes said new members were looking to diversify in the current climate and that they had been attracted to the network’s ability to offer customers a full service.

Symes said: “For some this means being able to offer ADR, for others it means being able to offer a parcel service, and for some it is both of these.

“We have members who have started working with new customers because the customers themselves have gone into a new market, such as hand sanitisers.”

Atul Bhakta, chief executive at One World Express, said: “Exporting globally could be the difference between life and death for businesses in 2020.

“After all, countries around the world have been affected by the virus’ spread in different ways, so any business that sells to a broader range of markets is giving itself the best possible chance to succeed."

Bhakta added that it was not the case that expanding into international markets was too costly: “Selling products or services cross-border is both simple and affordable, as long as the company prepares thoroughly and finds the right partners.”