Brexit: business success beyond the borders

Brexit: business success beyond the borders

26 Apr    Columns, Finance News, Opinion

The aftermath of Brexit has presented both unprecedented challenges and unique opportunities for businesses in the UK.

Areas causing the biggest impact include increased costs, labour and skill issues and supply shortages, with many businesses having to reassess and adapt to thrive in a post-Brexit era.

The effects of 2020

Before 31st January 2020, when the UK officially withdrew from the European Union and the single trading market, there were no borders for trading goods and services between the UK and EU countries. Imports and exports weren’t subject to border checks and restrictions, tax and duty rates, or documentation. Now these rules have made exporting to European countries more complicated and expensive.

As businesses began adapting to the new trade barriers and associated costs and operational complexities, there was a lot to be learned. This, coupled with the double blow of the pandemic on the global economy, meant that momentum was understandably slow. However, as time went on, many businesses began thinking differently and seizing opportunities presented to them.

For some, facing fewer EU restrictions meant they could access new global markets and trade more freely, leveraging the new free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand. Others have been growing their businesses into more emerging markets such as Latin America, Asia and Africa. Another avenue for lots of businesses has been to expand their physical footprint globally.

Retail: an industry facing change

One industry hugely affected by the overall changes brought about in 2020, was retail. For this sector, Brexit marked a real turning point. Exiting the EU brought about a totally new way of doing business that caused many retail brands to suffer, but within a few months of Brexit coming into play, the enforced lockdowns all across Europe caused by the pandemic sent ecommerce rates soaring.

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Bricks and mortar brands were left with little choice but to utilise ecommerce sales channels to remain open and profitable, while meeting shifting consumer preferences. For existing ecommerce retailers, business ramped up significantly. Those who adapted quickly and navigated the requirements post-Brexit were the ones able to prosper.

Analysing fulfilment and logistics strategies was imperative for fast-growing retail brands operating across key global markets. However, as with any unchartered territory, forming partnerships can ease and optimise the process.

For many retailers, it was difficult to capitalise on the opportunity to grow their brand during a time of uncertainty. It was important to navigate these challenges effectively to scale and thrive in the new environment.

Collaboration to create success

This sense of partnership and collaboration was key for one iconic brand with ambitious growth plans post-Brexit. Legacy fashion brand, Ed Hardy wanted to re-establish itself across the UK and the EU, but like many other retailers, was confronted with a range of post-Brexit complexities servicing EU customers from UK-based centres.

This was exacerbated by the fact that Ed Hardy had identified territories like Germany and the Netherlands as key growth markets. The resulting required split between the UK and EU markets meant the brand would have to re-evaluate logistics to avoid increased customs charges, shipping delays, and regulatory hurdles that could impede its reach to vital customer bases across mainland Europe.

We supported Ed Hardy in overcoming the challenges it faced and meeting its goals, through our international expertise and tech-led approach to fulfilment and logistics.

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The first area we jointly addressed was distribution effectiveness. With a fulfilmentcrowd warehouse in Bocholt, Germany, and a UK base in Otters Brook, South Wales, Ed Hardy was able to avoid Brexit-related trade barriers, while reducing costs and shipping more quickly. Localised distribution centres also enabled the brandto offer a wider range of products tailored to regional tastes and preferences.

The partnership also provided Ed Hardy with the scalability needed to adapt to changing market demands and consumer trends rapidly; vital in the fast-paced fashion industry where consumer preferences shift abruptly. Specifically, fulfilmentcrowd’s logistics and data analytics tools offered the retail brand valuable insights into their customers’ behaviour and market trends. This data-driven approach enabled more informed decision-making regarding inventory management, product development, and marketing strategies.

Ed Hardy is now one of the fastest-growing companies in the UK, setting its sights on getting back to previous levels of revenue.

Conclusion

With change comes opportunity. However, taking action by collaborating, being more agile and diversifying will enable businesses to more easily – and successfully – capitalise on them. Both Brexit and the pandemic turned the business world upside down, but as brands continue to work together and adapt, they will be capable of not just surviving, but thriving in whatever the future of work brings.


Lee Thompson

Lee Thompson

Lee Thompson is CEO at fulfilmentcrowd – international fulfilment service and tech provider.

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