Exporting Insight: Keeping calm and carrying on

Exporters and international trade experts came together to discuss the challenges and opportunities which lie ahead for our exporting businesses in the latest in Lancashire Business View’s Insight series. This is the first of two parts, read the second part here.

Lancashire exporters are playing a waiting game when it comes to preparing for the possible effects of Brexit on their operations.

Business taking part in Lancashire Business View’s export summit at the Altham headquarters of furniture manufacturer The Senator Group revealed they had spent little money on their post-Brexit planning so far.

With uncertainty over what might be needed they were adopting a business-as-usual approach, the audience at the breakfast event heard.

Andrew Turner, managing director of tube manufacturer Langtec, said that the business had taken some steps, but added: “We have spent very little on Brexit. We’ve got someone working on it now and we keep getting the same feedback.

“Most of the advice we’ve had is just wait and see because we don’t know what else you can do at this moment in time. There are things that may need to be done but don’t need to be done right now.”

Oli Granger, business manager at The Senator Group, said the business had set up registrations in different countries. 

You have to be dogged, you have to be determined and you have to be prepared

However, he added: “The view we have held is there is no point doing too much until we know what we have to do. We just have to wait and see what happens and move as we need to.”

And Mark Blewitt, director of stove and cooker manufacturer Esse, told the gathering: “We have not spent anything at all.”

Andrew Turner said that the uncertainty over Brexit had made several customers “a bit jittery”.

He added: “We don’t care what the decision is, just make one so we know what it is. It doesn’t matter to us whether there are customs or whatever in Europe, just let us know so we can deal with it. We will find a way; British industry has a habit of doing that.”

Divia Patel-Smith, international trade advisor at the Department for International Trade, said the official line was “keep calm and carry on at the moment” and added the negotiations were still taking place.

Looking at the attributes needed to export successfully, Chris Manka, North West regional chairman of the FSB, said it was having the right mindset. He said: “You have to be dogged, you have to be determined and you have to be prepared for your assumptions to be completely shot down in flames and to have to start again.”

Divia Patel-Smith added: “Being a successful exporter is mostly about confidence, taking that jump to do it.”

Leon Cane, is associate director at Baldwins and runs its China desk. He said it was important businesses talked to and found the  right people when looking at new markets. He added: “We take people over to China and they have jaw-dropping moments when they realise what a fantastic market it is.”

Diane Davies, director of international trade at HSBC, said that professionals and advisors needed to make it easier for businesses to tap into the wealth of information they held when it came to exporting.

She also urged businesses thinking about exporting to talk to those already doing it.

  • This feature is published in partnership with HSBC, the Department for International Trade, Baldwins and the Federation of Small Businesses.
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