Derrick McFarland comment: BMN Leading Lights – Brexit Special

Derrick McFarland, Managing Director Keystone Lintels is BMBI’s Expert for Steel Lintels.

Our view is that Brexit was not the best decision ever made for business in general, or for the UK as a country. Both free trade with Europe and free movement of people contribute towards the UK’s economic health in a big way, and while we will be able to negotiate trade deals with any country – eventually – a ‘no deal’ Brexit could put us in a weaker position in the short term.

The uncertain economic outlook, and the difficulty in predicting the outcome of Brexit at this stage, has significantly reduced investment into the UK. This, in turn, is putting both current and future jobs at risk – jobs that are filled by workers who will be our future house buyers. While the UK housing market is fairly strong today, the medium-term prospects could be damaged by the outcome of Brexit.

And how do we plan for Brexit in the short term, when we are facing this ongoing uncertainty and political ‘strutting’? If this continues, it will make the coming months very difficult and worrying, and a delay to the 29th March planned exit date would not help the situation.

Our main concern, in terms of how Brexit might affect our product sector, is estimating how much product the market will require and ensuring that we can meet that demand. In the short term, we have increased our stock of finished goods and raw material, so we believe we will be in a good place to respond to any changes in demand, regardless of the outcome of Brexit.

I believe all companies should be running multiple plans at present and be prepared for both the possibility of growth and the possibility of a slowdown in the market. We also need to balance retaining our current workforce with investing in and attracting future graduates, apprentices and school leavers to our business and this is something we have in the plan. But the longer the uncertainty goes on, the longer the plans remain plans, rather than actual investments.

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Launched in 2015, the award winning monthly Builders Merchant Building Index (BMBI) report is the only reliable measure of repair, maintenance & improvement (RMI) activity in the UK. Filling an important gap, it can be widely used in construction, and by economists, Government, national media, commentators and influencers outside the industry.