The advice and support being provided by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce in preparing businesses for Brexit is being seen an as invaluable aid by many.
One is Rugby-based transport company PTI Express, which is in a more challenging situation than many businesses due to the amount of business it does with the Republic of Ireland.
The company has found invaluable advice and reassurance in light of the UK leaving the EU through a free Brexit Health Check initiative available to all West Midands businesses, being led by Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce. To take the three minute check click here.
PTI Express found a niche in the market in transporting goods to the whole of Ireland in the early 1990s and has grown to employ 35 people, with around 250 consistent customers across the region.
It delivers goods to Ireland on behalf of clients across the Midlands and says a ‘No Deal Brexit’ is the worst case scenario for its business.
The goods range from clothes and shoes through to food and industrial parts and sees the company send 300 consignments a night to the Republic of Ireland.
Business with the Republic of Ireland accounts for 35 per cent of its turnover.
Nick Putt, who runs PTI Express, has been preparing for Brexit ever since the decision to leave the EU was taken, including attending Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce events and training sessions.
He said he knows what he will have to do in the event of no-deal – but can’t afford to make the financial outlay required on the basis of something that might or might not happen.
The free Business Brexit Health Check has helped.
And Nick believes there are companies across the region – and the country – in exactly the same boat.
He said: “Right now, the 300 consignments we ship into the Republic of Ireland are not considered exports while we are part of the customs union.
“In the event of no deal, every single one will need customs declarations.
“For us to provide these customs declarations we would need to employ at least another 10 people.
“Our customers are understandably very concerned about this and have been asking me what to do, so I am communicating with them as best as I can to let them know their options.
“I’ve been dealing with the chamber, who have been keeping members informed and I have been to training sessions on customs declarations.
“It was there that I discovered that every export declaration will take on average around 20 minutes.
“So on the basis of that, I could work out – if we offer that as a service – the additional costs that would bring to the business.
“We worked out that it would cost an extra £295,000 annually to provide the service and we have no idea whether it is going to happen.
“I can’t put the business at risk for something that is so uncertain.
“Our customers could get their own customs brokers but when you consider that Ireland alone will be jumping from one million imports to 30 million imports in the event of no deal, you realise just how many more people will be needed and nobody is prepared for that.”
Nick added: “Then when you think about Dover to Calais, you start to get an idea of the sheer number of people that are going to be needed. There is just not the capacity in the market.
“It’s a very stressful time. At the start of the year, we saw an increase in business as companies stockpiled ahead of the original March 31 deadline but that has subsided now that everyone has over-stocked themselves.
“From a personal point of view, I accept that we voted to leave the EU and respect that but as a business we really need to be in a position that allows goods to move freely into Ireland and the rest of Europe.
“No deal is just the worst case scenario.”
A Brexit health-check toolkit has been made available to help businesses understand what they can do to prepare in advance. The health check can be found here.
James Ahearne, international trade hub manager at Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, has been leading the chamber’s Brexit activity.
He said that, as well as the health check, the chamber would be running a series of events, seminars and webinars in months leading up to October 31 to get firms prepared.
James said: “PTI Express has ensured that it is completely up to speed with Brexit and the potential outcomes.
“Of course, there are still many unknowns and the chamber has been working hard locally, regionally and nationally to ensure the business case is heard and to help prepare as much as possible.
“PTI Express is great example of how companies can understand the scenarios they may face and the potential impact on their business.
“When we get clarity over the Brexit process businesses like PTI will know how to respond and what action they need to take when the time comes.”
He added: “So we would urge businesses to use the time between now and the end of October to understand how they might be affected and what they can do to prepare now.
“We will be here to support that with a range of events and webinars to keep companies of all sizes and sectors up to speed with what they need to do.”
Brexit is coming in
Local support to help businesses prepare for Brexit
West Midlands businesses are being urged to take a free Business Brexit health check to help them survive, thrive and grow; in an initiative being run across the region led by Coventry and Wawrwickshire Chambers of Commerce with backing from the Government.
In the final days before the UK leaves the EU on October 31 West Midlands businesses are also being invited to attend Business Brexit Support Events throughout October, full details are being announced here.
Experts are also on hand to take phone calls from West Midlands businesses who wish to talk through any issues they are experiencing in the final days before Brexit on October 31 – you can call 02476 654321.
For more information click here.
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