As we settle into our new relationship with the European Union (EU), changes in trading terms and agreements between the UK and EU will likely have an impact the operations and supply chain of many businesses.
Changes in trade agreements and rules on the movement of goods both in and out of the EU will have notable impacts on British businesses across the board. Adapting to these changes will be key to keeping your business on track and even finding new opportunities.
To make sure your business is ready to cope with the changes, we’ve compiled a number of steps you can take today and further resources to ensure you’re able to keep your supply chain running smoothly.
Three things you can do to future proof your supply chain with the EU
(1) Understand how Brexit will impact your supply chain
To fully understand how your operations may be impacted by new trading agreements with the EU, an important first step is to carry out a comprehensive audit of your supply chain. Does your business source parts or unfinished goods from within the EU? In addition, what changes are your customers likely to face? Are their main sales located in the EU?
If your supply chain is facing disruption, it may be a good opportunity to review your suppliers and look locally. Regional or even national suppliers of products and goods will be subject to less restrictions and will also avoid any potential delays at ports, meaning you can rely on a timely, regular supply of goods.
An in-depth understanding of your supply chain will help you deal with, and hopefully avoid, any complications arising from trade friction between the UK and EU.
- Pinsent Masons, a global law firm, provides a useful analysis of how the Brexit deal will impact manufacturing and supply chains in 2021
- Industry Week’s self-evaluation quiz offers useful starting points to help you quickly identify where your supply chain may need some fine tuning
- The Balance’s ten tips for finding wholesale distributors for SMEs is a useful starting point if you’re looking to change or diversify your suppliers
- Startups has also compiled a helpful guide on where to look for suppliers and wholesalers
(2) Get up to speed on new import, export and trading regulations on products your business uses
In assessing risks, backlogs or delays in your supply chain, understanding what products or transport may be particularly impacted by new trade agreements is crucial. A huge number of regulations have changed as a result of the Brexit deal, affecting all aspects of supply chains. Making sure you have a robust understanding of new trading restrictions and allowances, and changes to import and export, will ensure you’re prepared to adapt your business for success.
- The government has published a number of important documents including:
- A summary of new trading restrictions and allowances under the new agreement with the EU, including a sector-by-sector breakdown of key areas
- A Brexit checker, which provides a personalised list of actions for you and your business
- Macintyre Hudson, an accountancy firm, offers a key facts guide for a quick run-down
- Deloitte has provided a more detailed essential guide to importing
(3) Expect the unexpected in the coming weeks and months
While the transition period helped to smooth any cliff-edge changes between the UK and EU, a certain amount of disruption is likely to continue as we get to grips with our new trading agreements. In order to keep your business running as smoothly as possible, make sure you are aware of potential disruption to supply and sales and be prepared to make necessary changes.
Are you able to continue production if there are delays in your supply chain? Or, do you have space for excess stock to build in a buffer? Ensuring plans are in place to deliver business continuity has never been more important.
- McKinsey’s comprehensive and practical guide to supply chain risk management helps you to evaluate your supply chain
- ICAEW has compiled a guide to help you plan for supply chain disruption
- Gartner, a research and advisory company, offers a supply chain disruption guide that provides a useful macro-level overview of how to tackle challenges to your supply chain
- BDO, a tax and audit business, also has a useful, Brexit-specific strategy for supply chain changes