This week the MRF ran their Brexit seminar, hosted by Natwest in Birmingham. An impressive range of panellists were lined up and a number of subjects were discussed on the evening but the main theme coming out of the event was to not bury your head in the sand; do something.
The Brexit issue is distracting so many businesses from more important issues, some are putting off making decisions because of the fear of the unknown. The economy, like a wheel needs to continue turning, so that there is mutual benefit for all. This slow down in the economy will possible amplify the issues that Brexit may bring.
Peter Wilding, (Brexit Lawyer with FBC Manby Bowdler LLP) is credited with first using the word ‘Brexit’ when advising the government, used the example of a High Street Florist, who imported flowers from Europe. Their costs of getting the flowers from Europe and the import process will most likely become way more complicated, at least in the short term. This doesn’t mean the end, they just to work out how to deal with this reality.
Every business situation is different and although many businesses do not believe they will be affected by Brexit, ‘they should all do their own impact assessment of their supply chain and their sales chain’ is the advice from Ron Mendez (Prospa UK Ltd). ‘There will be political, social and economic factors that will impact most of us and this will impact the economy and businesses’. This was a sentiment shared by Dr Jacob Salder (Birmingham City University) who warned; ‘Be in no doubt, you may not realise, but somewhere in the chain what you buy or sell will be impacted and so there will be a knock-on effect on you’.
3 things to think about
So what were the key takeaways for those who were not able to make the event?
- Consider your process chain and Identify alternative suppliers and or customers. Work on developing those relationships now, before more announcements are made. There are alternatives locally and internationally waiting to do business with you.
- Contracts and Compliance are things you should pay attention to, see what you are obliged to do and what you may need to renegotiate. If you are sourcing or selling from Europe, or if you are worried about skilled resources having to move offshore, EU citizens can apply for ‘settled status’ which would be similar to the ‘indefinite leave to remain’ setup that we have for non-EU Nationals, as long as they meet the criteria.
- Take advantage of things like Apprenticeships or staff who want more flexible working arrangements. Executive Leadership Coach, Lucy Barkas is working with her clients to promote ‘Leadership through adversity’ and thinking outside of the box. In difficult times always plan and review regularly.
The key message from the MRF is that it may seem difficult right now but people do have money to spend. Double-down on your strengths and look for opportunities wherever you can.
What should you do next?
We expect more announcements over the next few weeks as the deal is either ratified or an extension is possibly requested. Whilst you are waiting for this, take the time to think about your customers and your suppliers and see if there is any possibility of disruption.
Paul Forrest of the WMEF asked for help from both central and local government for HS2 style connectivity within regions and 5G network connectivity to boost regional business. More action like business rates support will also be needed. This is something businesses should be lobbying for.
Our next event
Our next events will be in April 2019 and will focus on the ‘Future of the High Street’ more details to follow.
The MRF appreciate the support of our expert panelists (in no particular order);
Peter Wilding, FBC Manby Bowdler LLP
Ron Mendes, Prospa UK Ltd
Paul Forrest, West Midlands Economic Forum
Lucy Barkas, 3WH Ltd
Dr Jacob Salder, Birmingham City University
Matthew Jenkins, Natwest Bank
Paul Cadman, New Edge Interiors Ltd
Ifraz Ahmed, Midlands Food, Drink & Hospitality Awards
Qasim Majid, Wow Group