Brexit, what’s your Plan?
What are your Brexit plans? What preparations have you made in regard to Brexit? How will a no deal Brexit impact your service to Europe? so, Brexit, talk to me?
There are many ways in which this question has been posed to me over the last couple of years but in recent months and I have seen a significant change. The mild concern behind the question of two years ago has been replaced by a more worried, urgent and dare I say a slightly panicked emphasis.
The amount of times this subject has been addressed in meetings and phone calls has increased dramatically. I cannot remember the last time I had a meeting where Brexit was not mentioned. A quick search of my inbox results in hundreds of emails containing the word.
As a business, S&J European Haulage have hundreds of customers across all sectors of industry from construction to retail, from E-commerce to food & drink. This gives us a real broad overview of business and as hauliers we are often the first to spot growth or slow-downs in the economy. All we need do is look at the volume of pallets moving through our pallet networks on a monthly basis.
With this insight I can tell you that there are some great companies out there that have done all that can be done to reduce the impact of Brexit in whatever form it arrives. There are also many, many businesses that have taken no action or quite simply (and quite understandably) do not know what action to take.
So, to answer the question, or the broad sentiment behind the question here are the practical steps that we have taken. Every industry will need to take different steps but for us it evolves around smooth transition through ports and ensuring the business is financially robust in the event of a financial downturn.
Hauliers wishing to have their vehicles work in the EU may require international road haulage permits; European Conference of Ministers of Transport or ECMT for short. We have applied for 18 of these permits but have heard in the last few days that the UK Government has granted access for EU operators’ access for international freight movements from and to the UK. The hope is that the EU will allow the same access for UK operators in Europe. This would mean that the need for ECMT permits is vastly reduced and hauliers based in Northern Ireland are already exempt so will not require ECMT permits. We have also applied for European trailer permits and our drivers may have to get international driver permits as UK driving licences may not be valid for driving in the EU in the event of a no deal. The International driver permits can be purchased from the post office for around £5.50 each.
A large part of our business involves transporting freight from the UK to the Republic of Ireland. In the event of no trade agreement then customs clearance would be required. Our partners in Dublin are set up to process customs clearance paperwork and have a bonded warehouse should this be needed. The charge that we would make for clearing goods is as yet unknown as the precise process has not yet been established. To clear goods we would need the tariff code along with the value of the goods, the number of units/items and gross weight. Our software providers are working on adding required fields onto our consignment portal for inputting this information. There will then be a potential for transferring this data to the clearing authority. We also have options for clearing goods from UK to the rest of the EU or EU to UK if necessary.
Keeping the wheels turning
We have partnerships all over Europe with other hauliers and forwarders. These close working partnerships have been vital in the growth of our business over the last few years. In the last 12 months in particular we have won some significant new business and rather than taking on additional staff we have utilised our reliable sub-contractors. This gives us a couple of advantages; The first is that in the event of a financial downturn we can easily reduce our use of our sub-contractors. The second advantage is that some of the sub-contractors have significant buying power with the ferry companies which ensures they have priority boarding on certain lanes during peak times. These factors may well be helpful in a no deal scenario.
All in all, there is still very vague information from Government regarding Brexit but as business leaders we have to plan for the worst and hope for the best.
So, tell me, what are your Brexit plans?
S&J European Haulage