A journalist at Management Today is writing an article on how Brexit has hit UK businesses, whether negatively or positively. If that applies to you, please tell us a bit more about how and why and there's a good chance you'll make it into the piece as he's featuring half a dozen firms. The journalist is looking to book in a telephone interview between tomorrow and early next week, which we will arrange.
11 responses from the Newspage community
At first, I think it's fair to say Brexit had a negative effect on our business, largely due to a common misconception that Brexit meant that GDPR no longer applied in the UK. Once that initial period passed, I think overall I would have to say Brexit has been good for our business in several ways a)people think UK GDPR must be very different to EU GDPR and so they want the differences explained, b) the number of EU based companies with UK customers who now want a UK GDPR agent (and likewise for companies based outside of the EU and UK) and c) an increasing number of companies who prefer to say to us "We pay you a fee and you just handle the whole thing for us, it's become too complicated for us to keep up with". I will freely admit I campaigned for Remain, I still believe Remain would have been better for the UK as a whole, but I'm also a democrat and recognise the Remainers didn't win, so let's embrace Brexit, warts and all, and use it to make business a success.
As the Exports Director of an industrial flooring company I saw the negative aspects of Brexit - understanding the requirements to complete customs declarations accurately took a lot of time and resource and added an extra cost. As the Founder of The International Trade Consultancy, I am seeing many of my clients being charged for all sorts of extras by courier companies that they attribute to Brexit and that are completely spurious - they're relying on SMEs not having the knowledge or time to argue. I'm also concerned that a lot of companies aren't aware of the changes coming in January for UK importers and EU exporters as their customs declarations were postponed for a year to give everyone a chance to get to grips with the situation but it's bred a false sense of security.
Brexit has caused me to bring manufacturing of our products into the UK. We now make a big deal out of the Made In Britain tag. We now make a higher quality product in our workshop in Hampshire and have total control of the process which has enabled us to offer a wider range of designs and introduce a bespoke service which is really popular. The downside of Brexit is that trading via platforms, such as Amazon, across Europe has become almost a hindrance - the hoops that Amazon want brands to jump through to now be listed on Amazon.de / .fr etc are too cumbersome and cost inefficient.
Since Brexit we have seen a huge number of orders returned unopened by EU customers who are being hit by huge import costs - in some cases these are more than the cost of the order due to additional handling fees. Whilst we are learning to adjust in the UK, EU citizens who are used to ordering from us are now having to adjust too. With customs and import charges so unpredictable dependent on country and delivery company, it's impossible to manage expectations and from a customer service perspective not worth trading outside of the UK.
Brexit has created logistical and financial issues. We were importing upholstery fabrics from a warehouse in Paris but delivery timescales became unworkable as well as cost prohibitive with Customs charges. A UK warehouse was set up to overcome this and has resulted in quicker and more reliable deliveries. For shipments to Europe we have to supply from Paris and for the UK from UK warehouse. Purchases from smaller fabric companies in other European countries are almost impossible with the additional costs. Customs charges can be 4 times the value of the fabric. Brexit has certainly restricted our opportunities to grow the business as we have been unable to introduce innovative new products at competitive rates.
As soon as Brexit hit I withdrew from shipping any products to Europe. Trying to work out what I needed to do was like wading through mud in the dark. All I kept seeing from the Government was 'make sure you are ready' but offering no clear cut advice at all. Stories from other businesses about orders being returned from disgruntled customers when they see the customs charges and then having to pay double shipping to claim the items back has put me off reinstating Europe wide shipping again. It's frustrating such a huge market is now essentially off limits to me for the forseeable. I think most products businesses like mine have also been hit with increased shipping charges and delays at ports, which is extremely difficult for small businesses to weather.
Brexit has been both good and bad for myself and other UK Poison Dart Frogs breeders.. The good, people are buying the UK bred Frogs rather than shipping in from Europe as they did previously, it has raised demand here in the UK for hobby keepers/breeders to supply as opposed to larger pet store chains. The bad, unfortunately lots of the equipment, live foods and supplements required in the breeding and keeping of Dart Frogs are only available to buy from abroad for UK suppliers initially, so we have found shortages and no availability for food required for newly born frogs. This has caused a major panic. All these factors have caused it, cost of shipping, no drivers, live items being held up in customs and on the docks and finally covid restrictions worldwide has also played its part this year.
For some first time buyers, Brexit has limited the possibility of become a homeowner. Mortgage lenders response to Brexit has been a tightening of their lending policy for borrowers who do not currently have indefinite leave to remain in the UK permanently. Clients from EU states with pre-settled status, and those from non EU states working on a VISA are worst hit, with some mortgage lenders stopping offering mortgages altogether. Other lenders are asking for higher deposits and earnings levels before considering lending money. As a specialist mortgage broker, we are seeing a greater demand for our services to help find solutions for these people. Many of our clients are professionals, such as doctors and nurses who are in demand due to the pandemic and skill shortages, and these people are finding it more difficult to buy a home to live in. As a consequence, some are forced to live in temporary accommodation and the endure the inevitable higher costs and insecurity that comes as a consequence. On one hand we are asking for medical specialists to come and help, and on the other we're not offering enough opportunity to own a secure home here.
11 months since the effects of Brexit were starting to be felt I'm pretty confident that we can all agree that for the majority of British businesses this terrible decision has had a huge impact. We have lost high value business as we quickly realised that the admin time spent, unexpected or higher custom fees as well as escalating shipping fees meant that we'd have to reject business where customers would like to ship within the EU. As we are a gifting business this also means we lost UK business as our customers want and expect a one stop shop for corporate gifts rather than having to shop around. We are seriously considering a European hub but the costs of this would be a huge gamble to us.
For me, as someone who has arrived in the UK this year, in the midst of a global pandemic & launched her own digital strategy agency here, it's a bit of a different take on Brexit (solely from the perspective of growing a business here). There is very much a brain drain and lack of tech talent here which equates itself potentially for more opportunities for a business like mine. I can (and am) meeting up with potential clients face to face whilst managing a remotely distributed team so Brexit does pose some positives.
Brexit has hit different businesses in different ways. For us, we have remained fully designed and manufactured in the UK so we thought we won’t be as badly affected but the rising cost of materials is inevitable. It’s all transitional though in my opinion. Brexit will eventually help open the doors to trade with the other world economies which will then be on a much bigger scale than where we were and will help our country be in a much better position overall. I do get it that most people/businesses are afraid of change but wouldn’t it be great to be able to trade with the massive American economy, the emerging markets such as Brazil and India and the rest of the world without the barriers of EU regulations? Any transition is always difficult be it a change of home, a change of business, a change of jobs or even a simple change of one’s habit but water always find its level and as long as we do it with the right spirit, we can achieve what we have set out to. And who knows, with UK’s powerful position in the world economy this way, we may be trading with EU again without any barriers and we’ll have the best of both the worlds!