Business Action | February / March 2019


Independent North Devon-based business magazine covering news about business and enterprise in Barnstaple, Bideford, Braunton, Chulmleigh, Combe Martin, Holsworthy, Ilfracombe, Lynmouth, Lynton, South Molton, Torrington, Woolacombe and more.


Can Brexit transform businesses

Many UK industries and

services have been adopting

agile, learning about scrum,

continuous improvement,

lean manufacturing, leadership

and a host of other

disciplines for years.

We tell ourselves we are

agents of change, we can

adapt, that is what we are

good at, yet faced with the

scenario of Brexit it can be

easy to crave certainty and

lose entrepreneurial spirit.

It is also true that some

companies are seizing the

opportunity that Brexit

presents. Do they have more

information than the majority

that are waiting for clarity

on the situation? I think not.

Actually, they are working on

the certainties they recognise

and taking the lead – exactly

what we have been preparing

for over the past few decades.

So, what are these certainties?

Certainty No 1: Heritage,

Experience and Expertise

We in the UK have a great

heritage of trade by meeting

adversity across the globe,

taking the challenge by the

horns and creating dynamic

and rewarding trading

relationships. That heritage

still exists.

Wherever you travel across

the globe, our reputation is

strong and goes before us. We

are renowned for quality, for

creativity, being fair, for doing

what we say we will do.

Our successful companies

define these attributes. Think

of Mulberry, Dyson and Fox’s

to name a few. Our sectors

too are renowned throughout

the world: we are leaders in

aviation, music, financial

services, education and more.

into exporters?

A new Netflix TV series offers a choice of 10 possible endings, but,

depending on who you listen to, Brexit could offer many more: from

plunging the UK into an economic abyss to raising it to the heights

of a western version of Singapore. With uncertainty seeming the

only certainty whatever deal is agreed, thrown out, implemented

or thwarted, Linda Middleton-Jones of International Trade Matters

draws on her 25 years’ experience in international commerce

and representing South West business interests globally to give a

practical view of how North Devon businesses can survive and thrive

Certainty No 2: Friendships

Whatever the nature of the

Brexit arrangement, it is absolutely

clear that right now we

should be reinforcing existing

relationships with our buyers

or suppliers across the globe.

In our brave new world, we

should not underestimate the

value of face-to-face relationships

over and above those we

make on a digital framework.

We know that a mixture

of traditional and digital

marketing methods used to

underpin a growth strategy

is important when based

upon a clear understanding of

customer values and desires.

When we communicate with

customers, we gain an understanding

of their world, vital

to sustaining existing trading

relationships and creating

new ones.

Improving and adapting

to meet customer needs is

fundamental to any successful

product or service and

especially important within

supply chains.

Certainty No 3:

Exporting Skills

Many companies have

become adept at selling or

buying into Europe. Indeed,

it is just the same as selling

to Aberdeen, Plymouth or

Brighton. Easy and uncomplicated,

easing the way to new

buyers across the member


At the same time a great

many companies also sell

across the globe. They have

gained a great deal of skills in

exporting over the years.

It is certain that we will

have to convert/revert to

exporting to the EU. HMRC

has already given us an

indication of what that will

mean. Current global export /

import level is approximately

90 million transactions per

year. If current trade with

EU remains at the same level,

that figure will jump to 300

million transactions per year.

That is a significant shift in

skills requirement; skills in

exporting that will have to be

learnt ready for Brexit.

Choosing to train your

employees now in the intricacies

of Certificates of Origin,

Incoterms and Tariffs will

mean that your company is

prepared. Admittedly, we

have no visibility of the level

of tariffs but that will soon

become clear. The important

thing is to understand the

fundamentals of exporting;

that is a skill that can be

developed now.

Given our heritage,

experience and expertise; our

recognition that relationships

are important; and that we

need to learn how to export,

is there anything else that we

need to consider?

Certainty No 4:

Innovation Sells

Innovation is key to the future

– either inside or outside

Europe. There is recognition

in the value of innovative

entrepreneurs who are

currently changing the way

and the speed of business.

Global big business is a

like a big oil tanker: it takes

longer to change course, it has

little agility and is slow and

steady. The British Chambers

of Commerce (BCC) have

already recognised the breed

of disruptor as one of the

main USPs of our country.

This ‘breed’ will be the driver

for success and in effect is

synonymous with innovation.

Innovation within the

UK has always been our

competitive advantage, our

USP, in effect. We have great

examples of our creativity

in manufacturing, across

services and through technology.

Given that funding

streams and global alliances

are likely to change, innovation

is more important than

ever. We need to remain

the benchmark country,

building on our reputation for

quality and tradition in the

ever-changing political and

economic scenario.

At International Trade

Matters, we think that

successful companies are agile

in their thinking, leading

innovation within to meet the

challenges that need solving.

Brexit is one such case where

we need to prepare for what

we know will happen and

subsequently harness our

resources to meet uncertainty.

We have the capability

and capacity to guide your

learning either through

accredited courses or by oneto-one

support and guidance.

■■Details 01398 351560 or

12 business action | February / March 2019 |

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