Following the EU Referendum last week which voted by a very narrow margin for the UK to leave the EU, the joinery industry will need to be well informed and well prepared to assess risk, says Iain McIlwee, chief executive of the British Woodworking Federation.
“For the UK, its people and its economy, we are entering a new chapter in history. Froom a position of preparedness, businesses will be able to ride through the inevitable period of change ahead with greater confidence and optimism. BWF have already prepared a risk matrix, this is freely available on our website and we encourage companies to go through it so they are braced for impact.
“Some of the risks will be immediate, such as fluctuating currency. The impact on material and component imports must be factored into estimates and companies must ensure they are not caught out on projects that they have already quoted on, but materials have not been secured. Some is longer term and the force of the impact will depend very much on how our Government reacts. Government must set aside petty squabbling and personal ambition and unite cross-party to end the period of uncertainty as soon as possible and start creating this new future we have been promised.
“We have already heard from leading political spokesmen what this means to their party. Frankly we are not interested. Attention must now be targeted not internally in Westminster, but on those parts of the economy that create wealth and jobs. We need to work with Government and the Civil Service to ensure that the manufacturing sector is not left to struggle through uncertainty, but is placed in an incubator ensuring that we emerge for any short-term blips and can start growing again, adding jobs and value to the new economy. Initially this must come through tax breaks, incentives to employ and light touch legislation. We must also ensure that public sector procurement, now unfettered by EU policies, very carefully measures and takes into account the socioeconomic impact of decisions within specification.
“At times like this, strong leadership is crucial. The BWF will be there to support its members, to remain vigilant to market opportunities as well as potential dangers, and to provide insight and clarity wherever it can. Our Members’ Day next month could not come at a more momentous time. We will be launching a new tool to help our members assess business risk and running workshops with experts well placed to help. I expect it to be a very busy couple of weeks in the run in an a lively event!”