We’re just getting to the end of the year and on the face of it UK manufacturing seems to have weathered the initial Brexit storm. There will undoubtedly be ups and downs over the next couple of years as well as uncertainty whilst the exit terms are negotiated.
Can you foresee what’s going to happen and be ready for every eventuality? Of course not! All you can do is make sure that you keep an eye on what’s going on and keep up with how the latest developments could have an impact on your business. There is little point in panicking and making huge changes until the unknown becomes known. By all means review things to see where you might need to change policies and processes if certain scenarios come into play. You may even go so far as to get some documents drafted and approved for use so that they can be brought into play immediately should your anticipated change become a reality. And for some of the big manufacturers who have many European offices and employees from other European countries in place, that is, in all likelihood happening right now.
But for many smaller manufacturers, it is simply a case of carrying on but being aware of Brexit developments and how they might impact further down the line. In fact, for some it has forced them to take look at their current order books and business models to identify if there are short term gains that can be made from the situation.
One such company, MEC Com did just that. They pushed ahead with plans and secured new orders in the 6 months since the Brexit vote.
Some industries have reported improvements since the Brexit vote. Without seeing detailed figures it’s difficult to say whether some of these areas were on the up anyway, but it is an indicator that the worries around Brexit seem to have settled a little and at the moment the impact has not been quite as bad as anticipated.
In August the Telegraph reported that automotive manufacturing was better than it had been for the previous 14 years. UK car plants were producing more vehicles, the vast majority of which were destined for overseas.
The International Air Show at Farnborough in the summer saw record numbers of contracts agreed for worth billions of pounds in the aerospace sector. Many UK manufacturers and companies are involved in the fulfilment of those contracts which will boost the UK aerospace industry.
Reports in September, and still now at the end of the year still hold the view that UK manufacturing is holding up well in the face of Brexit. The fall in the pound has helped make UK goods more competitive on global markets; however, there is a counter balance to that in as much as imported materials become more expensive. But so far, the balance seems to be tipped in favour of UK manufacturing.
Who knows what 2017 will bring? We can only hope that manufacturing remains stable whilst exit negotiations continue and access to the single market will likely be a huge factor there. All we can do is watch and wait, making sure we assess and prepare for the possible impacts along the way.