Countdown to Brexit: Tony Hughes, CEO of Huthwaite International

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With the countdown to Brexit quickly ticking away, Business Link Magazine invites a select number of the region’s business leaders to offer their thoughts.

Here we talk with Tony Hughes, CEO of Huthwaite International.

Mark Carney’s warning that large parts of the economy are not ready for the Brexit deadline, regardless of the result, has sent shock-waves through the business community. He references that less than half of businesses of all sizes are prepared with a contingency plan for a no-deal-Brexit, small and medium sized enterprises across the UK are left confused and under-prepared.

To date, many companies have been mistakenly believing that until a Brexit deal, or no-deal, is set in stone, their ability to prepare for its outcome is near on impossible. It seems the Governor of the Bank of England is in agreement to some extent. When questioned on the matter on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Carney’s response to the question of ‘what needs to happen to safeguard finances’, was simply ‘to plan.’ And yet, when questioned on the logistics of planning, his response was ambiguous.

If the Governor of the Bank of England is struggling to provide advice on what can be done to safeguard business ahead of the unknown, it’s little wonder that businesses themselves are feeling overwhelmed. Yet, there are precautionary measures they can take to help safeguard profit and safeguard their bottom line from the Brexit tides.

Regardless of your industry, Brexit will impact sales, we already know this – be it for better, or worse. And, unfortunately this rule applies whether you’re a start-up tech company or a well-established manufacturer. However there is another more positive statistic that unites businesses of all shapes and sizes, and that is the role a systematic approach to negotiations can have on improving profitability.

Huthwaite’s research shows that businesses practising a systematic approach to negotiations see 42.7% more profitability than those that don’t. Despite this, just 38% of companies in the UK apply this approach, and small businesses are the worst offenders, with 53% failing to implement a formal approach to negotiations in their business.

This leaves a huge hole of potential, and risk, for businesses operating in the UK. With uncertainty ahead, it’s never been more important for businesses to prepare and really consider what impact the Brexit outcome could have on their operations. Whilst it may be impossible to plan a strategic approach to overcome specific nuances that may present themselves in these turbulent economic times, by simply looking at what deals and cost-saving measures can be introduced to a business’ operations now, will help relieve cash and expenditure ahead of the final outcome – ensuring businesses are as best optimised as they can be to weather any potential storms on the horizon.

After all, if the Governor of the Bank of England is encouraging businesses to prepare ahead of the outcome, it’s wise for business owners and leaders to take heed and make note.