Following the Brexit vote, business leaders around the UK have been looking for ways to continue trading uninterrupted – whether that is domestically or with EU nations.
In this series, we’re catching up with those who have made big decisions for the future of their business in a post-Brexit world. Here, Barry Leahey, managing director of Playdale Playgrounds, tells us about the importance of his company’s Brexit risk register.
Building a business-wide risk register
The team at Playdale Playgrounds are used to the logistics of exporting, having traded with 51 countries for a number of years.
Fully aware of the complexities surrounding exportation, it was decided soon after the Brexit vote that the company would develop a Brexit risk register to help the firm plan for the coming changes.
“[The idea behind the register] was to research all the different areas that may affect us, and from that came circa 100 actions that we needed to research or achieve,” said Barry Leahey MBE, managing director at the Cumbria-based business.
Each action was then assigned to the relevant departments within the business, with each one cascaded down through the business.
Once an action was assigned, it would be reviewed in the monthly board meetings to ensure the actions were on track.
Included within the risk register were several high-priority areas that needed to be investigated, including movement of people, contracts, EU suppliers and distributors, logistics, intellectual property and supply chain.
“We made sure we knew, to the nth degree, where our supply chain came from, so not just our suppliers, but their suppliers, and their suppliers, and that involved writing to all of them and asking them to do similar exercises,” Barry went on.
Barry feels that one of the most important actions that came from the company’s risk register was obtaining Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) status.
“We were the first SME in the North West to get AEO status,” he reported. “It’s an EU customs status, which helps with paperwork and administration. I think that’s helped us and made sure our movements have been smooth in January.”
Although the process to gaining AEO status is lengthy and stringent, Barry believes that it has been immensely worthwhile for the business, as it reduces the chance of their lorries being stopped and inspected, thereby lessening the chance of delays.
For more information on AEO, visit the gov.uk website.
Barry was key to emphasise the importance of following the government advice and seeking out the online training provided for businesses continuing to trade within the EU.
“Doing the government training definitely helped,” Barry went on, citing the instance of one employee within the business as an example. “We’ve got one individual whose workload has increased slightly around the documentation – but they’d completed some of the government-funded training in December, so it was really quite fresh for them and we were ready to go.”
He added that businesses should embrace the opportunities that exporting still offered, despite Brexit.
“You become a more agile business, you deliver better customer service, you’ve got improved profitability, you’re spreading the risk,” he explained.
“For all the negativity you might hear, the positives far outweigh them, and your business will improve.”