Brexit is likely to have an impact on the flow of goods coming into the UK, and it is therefore important to be reviewing your supply chain as early as possible, to establish whether your supply chain may be affected by Brexit. This exercise should be carried out regardless of whether you import yourself or not, as most businesses will have some element of imported goods in their supply chain.
This is an important step to take. This should involve understanding where your products are sourced but it should also include a discussion with your suppliers to understand what their plans are for the various scenarios that may play out. If you identify any potential weaknesses in your supply chain then take steps to mitigate these (for example, do you have a heavy reliance on one supplier – can you source an alternative?).
The review of your supply chain should also include a review of the terms and conditions from your suppliers – check to see whether there have been any changes and make sure you are comfortable with them if that has happened.
We would recommend that businesses carry out a stock take sooner rather than later as this will provide you with an opportunity to establish whether you are running low on items, especially those which are imported. Doing this exercise in conjunction with reviewing your potential requirements over the next six months will help you to understand whether you are likely to be needing to import stock in the first few weeks after Brexit. If that is the case, speaking to your key suppliers will ensure that you can manage expectations further down the line.
Brexit is unlikely to be a smooth process, especially for those businesses who will be importing goods into the UK. Being aware of the potential difficulties will help you prepare your business more effectively. Things you might want to consider may include any potential delays for deliveries, what happens if you are unable to source a key item, are there going to be increased costs due to changes in VAT and/or import duty, will cashflow be impacted or will suppliers want larger deposits or proforma payments?
Keeping the working capital cycle moving will be a focus for many business owners as they prepare to deal with Brexit whilst still finding themselves in the middle of a global pandemic. Speak to your suppliers, ask them what challenges they are anticipating, and whether they have contingency plans in place. Ultimately, if there’s going to be any delays to deliveries, that will impact on your customer base, so keeping a clear line of communication open with your suppliers will help smooth over any challenges that you may face together.
Being proactive and carrying out a full review of your extended supply chain will help you to understand and anticipate any potential issues. Communicating with key suppliers to understand their policies and plans will help to alleviate any potential concerns.