Bank of Ireland’s Prepare for Brexit Roadshow helps Irish businesses get ready for the potential impact of Britain’s departure from the EU.
With continued uncertainty surrounding the eventual course the Brexit process will take, a timely new nationwide initiative has launched, which will see experts travel the length and breadth of the country helping Irish businesses to prepare now for continued growth in the aftermath of Britain’s exit from the EU.
Bank of Ireland launched its Prepare for Brexit Roadshow in Dublin last week ahead of British prime minister Theresa May’s planned Brexit speech in Florence next Friday, when she will travel to the Italian city to provide an update on EU negotiations.
The move follows the announcement that Brexit talks scheduled for tomorrow would be delayed ahead of a major EU summit scheduled for October 19.
Only then will businesses in Ireland learn if sufficient progress has been made for negotiations on a future trade partnership to begin.
“Regrettably the process is both complex and uncertain and it is likely to be some time before clarity emerges,” said Michael Lauhoff, director of Business Banking at Bank of Ireland.
Lauhoff was speaking at the launch of Bank of Ireland’s Prepare for Brexit Roadshow, which was launched last Tuesday in Dublin at House of Lords on College Green.
“The EU has stated that it will not begin negotiations on a future trading relationship until sufficient progress has been made on three preliminary issues,” Lauhoff told attendees at the morning
“These are the amount the UK must pay to cover its liabilities under committed EU programmes, the future rights of EU citizens living in UK and UK citizens living in EU, and the Border in Ireland,” said Lauhoff.
The Bank of Ireland Prepare for Brexit Roadshow would provide support and advice to Irish firms as they prepare for the potential impact of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, Lauhoff added.
“We have already conducted a number of events nationwide where we have been talking to our business customers about Brexit, so we know that companies are looking for additional advice and support,” he said.
Bank of Ireland is partnering with a number of industry bodies and advisory firms for the Prepare for Brexit Roadshow, including Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia, Ibec and the British Irish Chamber of Commerce.
Accounting and advisory firms KPMG, Deloitte, EY, PWC, Grant Thornton, BDO and Mazars will also participate. The media partner for the initiative is The Sunday Business Post.
“The roadshow will provide insight and stimulus to enable companies better understand and prepare for this significant challenge,” said Lauhoff, who launched the initiative last Tuesday alongside three other speakers.
“It is imperative that businesses anticipate a range of scenarios and devise plans to capitalise on potential opportunities and mitigate possible risks.”
Deloitte’s Barry Robinson spoke alongside Lauhoff at the launch event about the firm's BrexitLab initiative, designed to help companies to identify the risks and opportunities arising from Brexit.
Eoin O’Neill, president of the British Irish Chamber, also spoke on the trading relationship between Ireland and Britain, following the recent launch of the chamber’s Brexit Toolkit.
Business owner Ciaran Crean talked about the approach his successful online car parts business Micksgarage.com was taking now to tackle the effects of Brexit head-on with an integrated approach to cost management, procurement and market strategy.
Robinson, meanwhile, told attendees at the event that Deloitte had identified three major Brexit impacts for companies – the movement of people, market access and market opportunities.
He cautioned against a “wait and see” approach, advising companies instead to “plan now, so that you are effective in your response to changing circumstances”.
In the short-term, Robinson urged companies to consider how best to manage and respond to the immediate uncertainty and indirect impacts of Brexit while negotiations continue.
“Key issues you can practically consider now include customs and duties, Vat, the movement of people, currency hedging and the supply chain. In the medium to long-term, businesses need to think about how to effectively plan and future-proof the business for the ultimate exit scenario and the disruptions which result,” said Robinson.
He advised companies to consider different Brexit “scenarios” to support the planning process.
“It’s important to adopt a coordinated approach to the Brexit planning process. Improve internal and external coordination in preparation for a response to Brexit. Form sectoral groups to tackle industry wide issues,” he said.
“Provide clear communications internally and externally on Brexit. Conduct scenario impact assessments to understand potential impact of Brexit. Activate a Brexit Taskforce.”
For businesses, this means asking:
- what is our exposure to the British market?
- will changes to the business model be required?
- how will we future-proof investment decisions?
- where will opportunities be presented?
- how will the potential disruptions impact on business strategy and operations?
Preparing ahead of Brexit was particularly important for Ireland’s SMEs, which employ 69 per cent of the Irish workforce, British Irish Chamber of Commerce president Eoin O’Neill told attendees at the Bank of Ireland event.
The chamber’s Brexit Toolkit has been designed to help SMEs navigate Brexit impacts including increased business costs and potentially restricted access, both in terms of carrying out business and, for some, of employees.
“Economic uncertainty may have an impact on your business as both clients and suppliers try to adapt to changing circumstances. However, there are also opportunities that may arise for your business as a result of Brexit,” said O’Neill.
“Threats could include challenges to your business model caused by possible disruption to supply chains, increased costs, your route to market or client uncertainty. There could also, however, be opportunities to increase your market share or to source new, cheaper suppliers."
For more, see