Taking the commercial temperature as Brexit looms

25th November 2020

Businesses are now approaching Brexit in a calm, measured and pragmatic way, delegates heard during a webinar addressing the challenges ahead; the session was organised by Harrison Clark Rickerbys.

The webinar, which covered the key issues which Brexit raises for business, heard that business leaders have moved on from the panic, politics and sweeping measures which the last Brexit deadline prompted, though there is still real uncertainty about what the future will hold.

Robert Capper, head of the firm’s commercial team, said: “Clients are definitely seeing this as an opportunity now. They are thinking of how to move forward and take those opportunities presented by free trade agreements.

“Their approach is more measured and focused on planning and action – how to move to new markets and link up with new distributors, for instance. They have been here before – it feels familiar and it feels inevitable.”

Leaders discussed a range of issues, from import and export duties and licences to currency fluctuations and how to adapt to accommodate those. They also looked at employment issues and immigration, trade finance, GDPR, TUPE and wider topics such as how to handle risk and how leadership and communication can be critical.

Clare Day, the firm’s head of real estate finance, said that the Covid-19 pandemic had brought about change which was just as useful to business in a Brexit scenario. Ensuring the right finance is in place, taking an overview of the business, investing in long-term client relationships and dealing with risk are all issues which the pandemic forced firms to consider.

The lack of an existing deal with the EU meant that much of the detail was still unclear, but the overall mood was practical and focused. Nicolas Groffman, head of HCR’s international team, said: “Businesses will not just plod along and reduce their exposure to Europe – they will take action far beyond that.”

One other side effect of the pandemic had been, he said, to highlight the ease with which people could do business with other countries, without travel or personal contacts. “Being able to connect virtually makes overseas trade much easier,” Nicolas said, “but it is still just as important to check those you are trading with very carefully; do your due diligence.”

The session is one in a series of webinars on Brexit; other events in the next month include a business leader panel discussion on Brexit on 8 December and a look beyond Brexit on 9 December. You can book in here.