UK companies burying heads in the sand over Brexit and now face panic - managing director

Author: Sarah Trinder

2019/02/21

LONDON (ICIS)--Companies in the UK have been burying their heads in the sand when it comes to Brexit but are now facing a “mad panic” with customers and suppliers according to Andrew Goddard, managing director of Morris Lubricants.

Speaking late on Wednesday at the 23rd ICIS World Base Oils conference, Goddard said that the company imports most of its base oils and additives from outside of the UK.

“We’ve buried our heads in the sand and hoped business would continue as normal but time is running out and we need to address these issues,” he said.

Goddard said that Morris Lubricants were taking advice from the United Kingdom Lubricants Association (UKLA), government bodies and the UK government's revenue & custom department (HMRC).

HMRC have indicated that from 7 February, companies can register for transitional simplified procedures (TSP) for customs.

TSP for customs will make it easier for companies to import products into the UK for an initial period of one year should the UK leave the EU without a deal.

Businesses that are registered for TSP will be able to import goods from the EU into the UK without making a full customs declaration at the border and could postpone paying any import duties.

“This will keep the wagons rolling. This counts when we’re talking about base oils and additives,” Goddard said.

There are a number of things companies should be doing in the run up to Brexit, Goddard said, stressing the importance of speaking to suppliers to make sure they have secure UK storage and asking what the Reach implications are.

It is also important for companies to monitor exchange rate fluctuations.

“These can make or break us as a business. If [exchange rates] are at parity following Brexit, that’s great. If at last minute there’s a deal [between the EU and UK] and exchange rates rebound, you could find yourself sitting on expensive stock,” Goddard said.

“Forecasts are the most critical thing in the run up to Brexit. Get your forecasts right to ensure your suppliers are ready,” he added.

“Employees are the most important part of the business. There was great uncertainty after the Brexit vote – can they stay in UK and continue to work for Morris Lubricants? The answer is yes. It’s of vital importance to us as an employer as to what happens to foreign nationals working in UK post Brexit,” Goddard said.

“As a business, as a country, we will have to deal with whatever comes our way. If we fall out on 29 March, we’ll deal with it as we have before. Whatever will be, will be.”