A leading figure in East Midlands business has written two blogs about Brexit.
In this, the first, he examines the resilience of regional business to the UK leaving the European Union.
The author is Dr Nik Kotecha, OBE, chairman of the East Midlands Chamber’s Brexit Advisory Group and chief executive of the Loughborough-based Morningside Pharmaceuticals. Here is his view:
“Leaving the European Union is one of the most challenging issues facing East Midlands companies for a generation, and there is still so much uncertainty on what the terms of the final agreement, if there is one, will be.
The good news is that East Midlands businesses are robust and, due to a large number of smaller businesses being based here, we are responsive to change. We also have lower unemployment than the national average and we are the manufacturing spine of the UK. As a region, the Midlands is in a strong position, so for the Midlands engine to continue to be successful, the East and West must work more closely together.
However, there is a danger that businesses are so busy with current activity that they don’t take the necessary action to prepare for the changes to come. Some of these big changes could be to supply chain access, regulatory rules and, potentially, changes in customers. It also means they may not be best placed to take advantage of the opportunities that arise.
A survey conducted by the Chamber’s Brexit Advisory Group found that many businesses are yet to start properly thinking about what the wider implications on their current business activity could be.
Brexit is complex and there are so many unknowns that it is difficult to understand where to start.
My advice, and the advice of the East Midlands Chamber’s Brexit Advisory Group, is to ask yourself three key questions.
The first question is: Have you devoted time to considering the indirect and direct consequences of Brexit?
There is a wide range of issues to consider here, including your workforce and the future skills needed by your organisation, cross-border trade, taxation and changes in currency, intellectual property and contacts. I will go into much more detail on all of these in my next Brexit blog.
Secondly, ask yourself: Have we consulted our board of directors on Brexit?
It’s essential that Brexit is put on the agenda of your board and executive team meetings, so a proper risk-assessment and strategy can be drawn up and then followed through.
The third question to be asked is: Have we mapped out our supplier and customer base?
Here you will want to consider how changes in the UK and European Union’s relationship will affect them. Once you have fully mapped out the changes and you have all of the information available, you will then be able to plan for each eventuality.