Structure is coming
Ian Cooke, C-Quip MD, is highly concerned with the Brexit situation. He is, however, ‘pleased that we appear, finally, to be getting some structure to the plans,’ but doesn’t see any evidence that some of the larger issues are being overcome.
He points out that the EU likes to remind the UK that ‘we can’t have it both ways’, but equally, says that neither can they.
The devalued pound ‘caused us a huge problem initially but has helped British boat builders (our customers) immensely with exports, so on balance, its currently having a positive effect’. However, he adds that his products have risen in price which the UK based ‘end user’ is having to accommodate with no positive upside.
Most of his customers are reporting steady sales and for many of those exporting, good growth. This means that Ian has been asked to ramp up stock provision for many of his key accounts, ‘but all are very aware that the ‘bubble’ is directly associated to the value of sterling and to continued growth figures in key countries’.
A change in either of these could result in a slowdown in production, which in turn will dictate sales figures for the supply chain.
As for the long-term future for the marine sector, Ian says that without a clear, border / tariff free trade agreement, Brexit can only have a negative effect: “It may be that having the ability to negotiate our own trade agreements with any country we like will ultimately achieve the flexibility we desire along with the financial reward. But I fail to see how generating barriers with our closest neighbours, with whom we’re now used to dealing with ‘paperwork free’, is going to promote growth in the UK.”
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