Forget ‘Brexit’ or ‘Bremain’ – Bysiness should be ‘Bragnostic’
European boss calls for referendum vote to be fact based rather than ‘faction’
The boss of a European business that manufactures tens of millions of wooden pallets for the food and retail sectors and has a strong market presence in the UK, has urged businesses to be ‘bragnostic’ when it comes to the EU referendum in June.
Carl McInerney, UK country director for Pooling Partners, the parent company of Dutch-owned IPP Logipal, said this week: Businesses should not be quick to join the so-called ‘Brexit’ or ‘Bremain’ campaigns, but vote dispassionately and in a way that they believe will support their company growth.
“We are a European company with operations in the Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and Poland as well as our buoyant UK market,” said McInerney whose office is based in Meriden, West Midlands – close to Birmingham International Airport.
“We move hundreds of millions of products every year on our pallets and we pride ourselves on being close to our customers. This means we have a unique cross border perspective on this important decision and an understanding that it requires a full consideration of the facts rather than the heated ‘faction’ coming out of both the ‘Go’ and ‘Stay’ camps.
“The truth is that businesses do not know what will happen if we leave, or indeed, if we remain. This is why a cold look at the facts and how they stack up for individual businesses and their strategic requirements is essential.
“In short, they need to be business agnostic – or ‘Bragnostic’ – if you will! Business is naturally risk averse because it requires economic stability to thrive. At the moment there is a lot of nervousness due to the two opposing camps and the rival arguments. In this vacuum, uncertainty breeds and with it a reluctance from businesses to make or attract investments until after the vote, which in itself could cost companies money in lost opportunities,” he argues.
He says that most businesses are concerned about the potential increased costs of doing business with the EU should the vote be in favour of Brexit and trade tariffs are imposed. Businesses can get around the issue by answering questions on a simple check list relevant to their company’s trading arrangements, he adds: •
- Will/can we be more competitive inside or outside Europe?
- What restrictions – commercial and legal – will the business face if the UK leaves the EU?
- Do we -as a business- currently get value for money from being part of the EU?
- Would we -as a business- get better return from dealing with global trade partners outside Europe?
- How about import and export taxes?
“In our own manufacturing and retail sector, the business is constantly evolving, so we rely upon facts to base our commercial decisions and all businesses must do the same when it comes to this important political choice on 23 June,” says McInerney.
Examples of this fluidity can be seen in the changing consumer habits which impact upon how many pallets are required in the UK from Europe and repatriated back for repair and re-use through cross border ‘pooling’ into France and Benelux – all of which requires careful planning to make optimum use of spare capacity transport, including trains utilising the Daventry International Rail Freight Terminal (DIRFT).
“We all now spend less time on so-called big shops and buy little and often. This is borne out by the fact that 40 per cent of adults do not know at 4 pm what they are going to eat that evening. This will impact our manufacturing and retail customers when they are deciding how many of the 20 million pallets we produce and repair in Europe every year, they are going to need.
“Economically we have also seen 18 months of deflated food and fuel prices, yet we will see inflated wage rises across the board with the introduction of the living wage. As a business, we need to address these factors and map them into our own future plans either inside or outside of Europe.”
Similarly, he says that businesses need to explore their own markets and future developments to help make the right decision.
“The search for an answer will also include debunking mythology. We are all having to look closely at this in the multi-million pound sectors that we serve, where 30 per cent of our food is imported yet only a tiny percentage is exported, with the exception of Scotland’s whisky, salmon and shortbread and a few niche, artisan products. Does this make us more or less attractive as a trade partner outside of the EU? I don’t know at this point, but I will certainly will be making it a consideration on 23 June.”