As March 2019 moves ever closer Food and Agribusinesses across the country still have a number of unanswered questions around the implications of Brexit. The ifac Food & AgriBusiness team have outlined some steps that business owners and managers can take to best prepare their business for these unknowns.
Companies need to assess their Brexit readiness and how exposed their sector is to the challenges Brexit will bring. It is important to engage with the assessment tools which are available. The Bord Bia Brexit Barometer and Enterprise Ireland Brexit Scorecard offer benchmark reports on how you compare to others within your sector and recommend actions for your company to take in light of the survey results. Although our Food and AgriBusiness Report 2018 shows that 49% of Irish food and agribusiness SMEs are not worried about Brexit it is still advisable to take these measures to assess readiness as a contingency.
Communication between all parts of your supply chain in the build-up to Brexit will help to build resilience within the supply chain. Tease out possible future scenarios for you, your suppliers and your customers. The more open all parties are about Brexit and the effect it could have on their business the better-equipped everyone will be come March 29th.
At an operational level staff need to be prepared. Employees may need to be upskilled to make the transition into a post Brexit situation as seamless as possible. Customs documentation, trusted trader status and Department of Agriculture export certification for animal products are examples of the areas in which employees could be more informed. Additional hires may be required to fulfill the skills gap within your company, this could be problematic.
We found that 28% of SMEs within the sector expect to hire more staff in the next 12 months with 63%* expecting it to be somewhat or very difficult to find the right people. Our advice would be to identify the potential pitfalls within your company and get an idea of the talent that is available in the market.
You are not alone. There are others within your sector going through the same dilemmas in relation to Brexit. Formation of sectoral groups to share ideas, thoughts and questions is a very cost-effective way of receiving support.
Creation of an internal Brexit team or taskforce is an invaluable use of the company’s team. This doesn’t necessarily involve hiring additional staff but more so getting managers thinking about how Brexit could affect operations within their own function.
And finally, anything that is within your control, make sure it is being controlled and completed in the best and most cost-effective manner as possible. Cost pressure is increasing, and it is worrying with 86% of medium-sized businesses experiencing cost increases averaging 5%*. Ways to tackle this may involve the implementation of a lean management programme, something that Enterprise Ireland can assist with. If you know your company is as efficient as possible then you will have a better fighting chance in dealing with Brexit.