PRICE BAILEY: ‘The Wait is Nearly Over…or is it?’

30th January 2017

Although it’s been some time coming we now have a clearer idea of Theresa May’s goals for the UK’s exit from the UK.

Despite this there remains intense speculation and debate, on both sides of the Channel, around our ability to achieve a settlement which is acceptable to both sides and the longer term consequences for UK business. Predictions range from devastation and end of the world as we know it on one hand, to very little or even a positive effect on the other. In truth it’s too early to tell what the commercial impact will be in the long term.

In the short term, it’s unlikely that much will change. There is going to be a period of time during which the exact terms of our withdrawal from the bloc are unknown. It could take even longer for clarity on the UK’s terms of trade with European partners and with others around the world. But businesses do need to have a plan in place to either protect their existing business or take advantage of the opportunities which Brexit may present in the medium to long term.

Many companies believe that as they don’t export they won’t be affected at all when the UK finally leaves the EU, but every company has a degree of interdependence which is greater than most people think. For example a supplier’s supplier may be impacted, and may not be able to deliver on time or at the agreed cost, which will have a knock-on effect on your business. Similarly a customer’s customer may loose a contract due to increased tariffs, resulting in loss of business. Therefore it is wise for every business to examine possible threats to their whole supply chain and customers, and plan accordingly.

If you haven’t already, the first step should be to speak to your EU suppliers and customers as soon as possible to maintain communications and provide reassurance. This will also be an opportunity to discuss ongoing relationships and ensure that whatever happens, the terms of any agreements or contracts will remain unchanged.

The referendum created a huge amount of market uncertainty for businesses, and until a full picture appears some of the uncertainty about the future is likely to remain. However, one thing is clear, waiting to see what is around the corner is not an option. Businesses need to develop a plan for every eventuality and take action now to ensure the impact on their trading is minimised.

If you would like any advice or guidance with business planning or international development, please contact us at 01353 662892.