23 Jan Making sense of post-Brexit Britain
British promotional businesses have been focusing on the implications of Brexit, with the continuing uncertainty having a major impact on the industry.
The British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) recently brought together industry figures and experts from the world of finance to discuss the situation.
Central to the challenges facing the promotional industry has been the issue of exchange rates. Most businesses sourcing product from the Far East trade in US Dollars – and Sterling is currently trading at levels not seen since Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister and Ronald Reagan in the White House.
Christina Foxwell, of foreign exchange specialists Moneycorp, told the meeting that uncertainty was at the heart of this volatility. The UK’s Brexit vote could spark further referendums to leave the EU in other countries, and the gap between Britain exiting existing pan-European agreements and independently brokering its own deals was also causing further pressure – with some economists predicting that the UK will go into recession.
Christina added that it was important to realise there were both winners and losers in such volatile markets – while many importers are struggling somewhat, exporters have suddenly found their goods become up to 15% more affordable in many markets. Moneycorp is advising its clients to focus on protecting budgeted levels, and resist the temptation to play the currency markets.
Meanwhile, Account Assyst’s Mike Collins re-emphasised the importance of having good credit management in place. He underlined the necessity for robust credit checks on end users, even if they were ‘household names’. Mike cited the recent demise of BHS as a case in point.
He urged businesses on both side of the supplier-distributor divide to be flexible with each other over payment – but warned that an ability to draw the line after a reasonable period of time was essential. Mike advised that any debts owing after 90 days should be outsourced.
Meanwhile, the BPMA revealed that it is considering establishing a reference database of consistent late payers in order to assist its members.
The future of employment law in post-EU Britain is yet another area of uncertainty. Paul Holcroft, from HR consultants Croner, reminded the meeting of the catchphrase of Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army – “Don’t panic!”
Nothing whatsoever has changed within UK employment law since the referendum, Paul pointed out, and employers are expected to have at least two years to reassess their situations following the triggering of Article 50. Paul added that the key was to begin planning now, and to ensure all current documentation is up to date and legally-compliant.
Wrapping the meeting up, BPMA Director General Gordon Glenister emphasised the need for the industry to remain positive and speak with one voice. “This is the best time to promote our industry,” he added.