October/November 2019

Preparing for Brexit

As we publish this, the UK political landscape has gone through yet another seismic shift, and we seem to be no nearer a clear exit plan for the UK’s departure from the EU. In fact, new legislation has just come in which makes the case for a further extension to the leaving date from 31 October 2019 to 31 January 2020. GM Business Connect caught up with Bryn Atherton, Commercial Director of Allseas Global Logistics, and asked him about what impact Brexit was having on Allseas;

Bryn Atherton, AllSeas Global Logistics

“Whilst Westminster continue to wrap themselves up in knots over how to handle Brexit the rest of us can only sit back and wait for the outcome and consequences or benefits of what that will bring. The Manufacturing sector and exporters are obviously concerned on what impact the decisions over the coming months will have, and importers will no doubt have similar concerns. Within the freight and shipping community we are in the dark as much as everyone else. I have attended various meetings, open forums and talks which to be honest seem to give no real answer as to what will happen. We however are not worried about how to support our clients’ business. 70% of our shipments are outside the EU. Also, our European partners very much rely on UK business. In the short term if or when Brexit hits, there may be slight delays in transport in and out of Europe whilst new procedures are enforced, however it is felt the infrastructure and systems are not yet in place to make a major difference and any new measures would be introduced in stages rather than overnight. If there is a sudden switch to customs clearing cargo in and out of Europe we already have the systems in place to accommodate, and training will be given to staff in order to ensure the smoothest flow of business. From an operational point of view the situation feels much like the Millennium bug scare stories of 1999. We don’t fear change, and are ready to continue supporting our clients through the next few months whatever happens.”

For more information on AllSeas Global Logistics call 0161 272 8989 or visit www.allseasglobal.com

Turbulence and strategy
by Tony Goodman MBE

It would be hard to find anyone in the UK who did not accept that we live in a time of turbulence and most people I speak with find it impossible to penetrate the miasma of polemic discourse to enable them to navigate a route for them and their businesses. So lets go back to basics. Can I tell you what will happen with Brexit? No. Except…I continue to forecast ongoing confusion and uncertainty. Will everyone be affected the same way? No. Absolutely not. Will every business be affected? No. And if you have carried out your risk assessment correctly and can’t see an impact for you, then your path forward should be clearer. Move forward. For me, the biggest problem for many if not most is the uncertainty. But with uncertainty comes opportunity. Uncertainty creates tactical problems, but strategic opportunities.

Who will prosper in this world of turbulence? Those that grasp the strategic opportunities with both hands.
A major strategic opportunity comes by exporting. This may not suit every business, but for those it does there are a plethora of sources of help to guide you and assist you through the process, starting with the Government, but also trade bodies, Chambers of Commerce and a phalanx of advisors.

Why should you export? Because it is in your interest and in the national interest.
Finding new market opportunities is beneficial as it enables businesses to expand their turnover, which in turn can have a positive effect on their marginal costs and so on their bottom line. Concern is often expressed that exporting results in margin sacrifice; whilst this can be the case if you chase the wrong kind of business, however in my 30 years’ experience of exporting it always added to the bottom line. Exporting is the affirmed aim of the Government who have committed in their recent Export Strategy to increase the level of exporting from 29% to 35% of GDP. The UK is lagging woefully behind similar countries and there is no reason why it should not increase much more. How can you achieve both of these? It is sometimes missed or ignored in all the polemic backbiting by our politicians, media and leaders that the UK has major strengths: we are the 5th biggest economy in the world, with a thriving national economy, record levels of employment, long term growth, low inflation and a vibrant and talented population. The UK has a world renowned finance sector, stable banking sector and a legal system respected throughout the world. We are leaders in technology, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, IT, services, fashion, manufacturing, education and so much more. Our products are recognised for quality, reliability and innovation. The strength/weakness of the pound, though a curse for many (I am abroad as I write this!) is a tremendous opportunity for exporters.

This all misses one of the greatest assets we have: the English language and culture. There is demand for British products around the world, they are respected and admired, but more than that we have the advantage of being widely understood. I also hear concerns that now is the wrong time to be exporting to the EU with such uncertainty around Brexit. I am not even going to try to justify an EU based strategy today, save to say that there are still and will remain, massive opportunities for exporting within the EU. But for today, lets just look further afield. Naturally, finding the best markets for you completely depends on what products or services you have. But the world outside the EU is where you will see real growth and opportunity. Concerned about the logistics? The UK has world class logistics companies that can move anything from one part of the world to another and assist you with the paperwork along the way.

My favourite exporting tip: whichever market you sell to, you should be able to find a local distributor to partner and help you reach your target customers.
Search, if possible, for one who is already importing goods from the UK; they will be able to hold your hand through the whole process and ideally will buy from you ex works, UK. This not only dramatically reduces your paperwork and risk, but also cuts all your admin costs and potentially improves your cashflow. Even if you don’t find the right partner, there is plenty of help, including with Government backed export finance, to assist you. Selling is never easy, whether it be in the same town, across the country or across the world, but the issues are always the same: Right Product, Right Price, Right Place

Get these right and you can find that exporting transforms your business.
You don’t believe it could be possible? Then head over to the DIT website and look at the numerous examples of companies that have already done it. Speak to one of my fellow DIT Export Champions, who regularly speak at events to encourage others (There are over 60 of us in the North West from a wide range of industries and company sizes). It will cost you nothing to find out more and could be just the Brexit strategy you have been looking for to calm the turbulent world.

Tony is currently Marketing Advisor at Forest and Co who specialise in offering guidance on branding, exporting and sales: www.forestandco.com