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August 24, 2020

When Brexit supply chain planning became an ‘urgent priority’ for companies

In the latest article of our Talking Head services, we speak to our UK, German and Dutch Country Directors – about the ‘hot topic’ that is Brexit. As integral members of our Brexit Action Team, Carousel’s Country Directors – Morton Griffiths (UK), Val Karren (NL) and Thomas Griese (DE) – are at the sharp end of all preparations and responsible for getting our clients ready.

Here, they examine why Brexit planning is now the ‘urgent priority’ for all organisations, but also why they feel Carousel is well-placed to help others ‘get ready’ during this tumultuous time in logistics.

How is Brexit planning this time around so different to planning, say, two years ago?

Morton says: “The biggest difference this time around is that we have more certainty than before. We know the UK is leaving on 31 December 2020 and there will be no more extensions to the transition period.

“While we still don’t have the terms of a deal – or if indeed there will be a deal at all – but what we do have at least is some knowledge about how border documentation will work following the end of the transition period. We still have gaps in our knowledge certainly – particularly regarding Ireland – however I think the general hope consensus is that we will get the clarity we need in time.”

How would you advise organisations of the best way to ‘get ready’?

Val says: “We’re advising organisations, first and foremost, to put Brexit back on the agenda; it slipped off the radar for so many during the pandemic understandably, and while that challenge does continue, Brexit is now the urgent priority. It’s particularly important for organisations that operate a Just in Time supply chain because they need to get their providers firmly in control of their customs clearance.”

Thomas adds: “On the whole, doing something is better than nothing. So, whether that’s examining systems and processes for producing border documentation, or just starting a conversation with logistics partners about preparations, right now our advice is to do something, anything, to get one step closer to being Brexit ready. The FTA recently urged transport providers to ‘not delay’ in their EU border control preparations, so perhaps that’s the critical first question to ask – is your provider up to scratch? And are they well placed to control your customs clearance. If not or you don’t know the answer to that, then that should be one of your first priorities.”

How has Carousel been getting ready?

Morton says: “What haven’t we been doing! During the last two years, our efforts have focused on getting ourselves, and our clients, prepared for any eventuality.

“As well as all the preparations you would expect, we’ve also run a number of internal projects, which I believe, will put us in a much stronger position come January 2021.

“In 2018 for example, we launched our own independent research looking into Brexit and how high-performance organisations were getting Brexit ready. What we found was the huge, detrimental impact a lack of certainty (regarding the timing and circumstances of the UK’s exit) was already having on manufacturers, both in terms of getting ready, as well as future planning. This insight helped us to increase our understanding to make sure that as a business, we were in the very best position to help when we did exit.”

How have you used that insight?

Morton says: “We didn’t feel it was enough to just have this understanding, so we took this insight and we lobbied the UK Government to make them aware of the impact this lack of clarity was having on organisations and their ability to plan. It’s something which I hope demonstrates not only our competence, but also our urgency to act. It’s always been Carousel’s ethos to do everything it takes, and more, to get the job done even if it’s not easy, and I’m incredibly proud of that.”

“During 2018, we also launched our Brexit Action Team and dedicated Brexit helpline. The Action Team is made-up of a collection of experts from across the business (from our UK, German, Irish, Dutch and Spanish operations), plus third parties, which together collaborate on strategic activity – these initiatives are all designed to get the business and our clients ready. For instance, all clients have an allocated Brexit Champion (a Champion who is responsible for looking after an account, in respect of Brexit) and this representative works in conjunction with the Action Team to implement the strategic outputs at an operational level.

“It’s a strategy that’s working really well and means we can keep focused on Brexit, at a strategic and operational level, while also enabling us to track and respond quickly to the latest Government updates.”

How has COVID-19 impacted Brexit and organisations’ preparedness for 2021?

Thomas says: “In the last four months, we’ve experienced one of the toughest logistical challenges, possibly ever.

“As an industry we’ve achieved so much, and this has only been possible by the expertise, innovation and care of those that work in it. Getting Brexit ready might not be easy, but it is possible and we’re on hand to help anyone that needs it.

“I just hope that our efforts during the COVID-19 crisis, and the associated lock-downs, provides the confidence that people need to feel reassured and to know that ‘we’ve got this’. Throughout the whole pandemic we worked hard to keep services running, to keep airports open and ultimately to maintain certainty in the supply chain.

Val adds: “There’s lots that the pandemic has taught us about the future of logistics, but one of the most pertinent things is the importance of having a robust supply chain for managing uncertainty and change. I suggest any organisation struggling to know where to start with their Brexit planning perhaps begins there.”

Why is Carousel so well placed to help organisations prepare?

Thomas says: “With 30 years’ experience in the industry, we have in-depth market knowledge, plus comprehensive experience of due diligence planning. In August last year, we extended our AEO status which means we are now in an even stronger position ahead of a ‘No Deal’ Brexit scenario; adding to our robust portfolio of ‘Brexit-ready’ services, international credentials and extensive customs expertise.

“Critically, our extended AEO status highlights the group’s competence in customs procedures – whatever form Brexit may take – offering real benefits, the biggest being less delays when clearing international borders. To put this into context – for clients that run just-in-time solutions, we can pick up and run their customs clearance straight away with minimal set-up so long as we’re given control.

“Our service and technology platform, Gateway, combined with our shared European Network and expert teams, also means we are in an excellent position to help organisations optimise major parts of their supply chain.

“Put simply, we offer the ‘full package’ – so we encourage anyone across Europe, who needs help, to get in touch.”

Information correct at the time of publishing.

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