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How Sandwell Businesses can prepare for Brexit

HOW SANDWELL BUSINESSES CAN PREPARE FOR BREXIT

With the uncertainty of Brexit at the forefront of everyone’s minds, Elaine Bruce, a Sandwell Business Ambassador and Finance Manager at H&R ChemPharm (UK) Ltd., discusses how businesses can continue to prepare for and strengthen relationships ready for the UK’s planned departure from the EU.

H&R ChemPharm (UK) Ltd is a manufacturing company within Tipton and a subsidiary of the German H&R Group. As a Director and Head of Finance, Brexit has been front of mind for me and the company since the result of the referendum in 2016. On the evening of the vote, I attended a CIMA event looking at Brexit, the US presidential campaign and the global economy: no one expected things to turn out the way they have!

Whilst our terms of departure from the EU – and timetable – are still unclear, as a business we have considered all likely eventualities. Although we hope this does not come about, we have planned for the greatest amount of disruption if the UK leaves the EU with no deal in place and have taken a number of actions to mitigate any potential negative impacts upon our trade with business partners.

The H&R Group has operations across the globe, and we have considered the implications of Brexit both for the UK company and our wider group. We have in place a Brexit team, who meet on a regular basis to review the evolving situation and our level of preparedness as Brexit approaches. This team will continue to meet post-Brexit to ensure we have a smooth transition. Since the vote, members of our team have attended various Brexit events and seminars and have also sought professional advice to ensure we are considering any potential impacts to our business, be they legislative, people, trade-related or otherwise.

At this juncture, the conversations with customers, suppliers and hauliers are key to the smooth running of operations over the next few months. Businesses may find it beneficial to increase stocks to protect against delays at ports, or to ship early to customers. Trying to reduce any surprises down the line by understanding the potential duty situation and making sure business partners are aware will support continuing relationships. Internally, the potential for increased workload within import and export teams may require additional resources or, for companies who may have only traded previously within Europe, new skills may be required.

The frustration for businesses is the not knowing, and whilst we are fast approaching Brexit without any clarity, it is not too late for businesses to plan and to utilise these conversations with business partners to strengthen ongoing relationships.

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