Well, now that two Brexit deadlines have come and gone whistling by our ears with no concrete action, it seems that the best business strategy is to keep on keeping on.
I do wonder now though what has happened to all of the stockpiles that a number of catering equipment manufacturers and suppliers created ahead of the initial deadline of 29 March. While the next deadline of 12 April would not have presented a huge problem for them, keeping the extra appliances ‘on ice’ for another 6 months until the (possible!) Halloween Brexit ties up a lot of liquidity in these assets.
The stockpilers will now have to make the decision of whether to whittle down the reserves in the meantime and build them back up again, maintain the current inventory levels, or simply refuse to stockpile again, either in the hopes that supply will continue smoothly in an ‘orderly’ Brexit, or that the entire thing will be cancelled. It remains to be seen if the steps taken prior to the original deadlines will come back to bite any companies in this industry though.
I often ask my interviewees whether the Brexit process has impacted their companies or the industry at large, as far as they can tell. And I get a very mixed bag of responses. I remain in the dark as to whether the pattern is by business type, end user sector, or a random scatter. For instance, one servicing company I recently spoke to said that while the firm is winning some big operator contracts and that end users are increasingly repairing rather than replacing equipment, call-outs have barely increased as these operators are also cutting sites, so the amount of equipment assets is remaining stable.
Or at the other end of the scale, some dealers have reported no downwards trend and indeed business is booming for both them and competitors, with barely a mention of the B word in their project discussions.
But it does look like the main thing Brexit has stifled is future investment, so while business may be good at the moment, it’s a little bit like flinging yourself off a cliff and on the way down noting that it doesn’t hurt – you have yet to hit the bottom and feel the pain.
I and my fellow media outlets could be massively wrong through – we could be the doom mongers yelling hysterically like Henny Penny (not to be confused with the Jestic-imported brand) that the sky is falling in, when in reality it’s sunshine and rainbows out there. If I were a betting person though, I would put a few notes on the Brexit deadlock continuing for years to come. Uncertainty is the new normal, so we’d better just get on with everything.