John Coe comment: BMN Leading Lights – Brexit Special

John Coe, Commercial Director Alumasc Water Management Solutions (AWMS) is BMBI’s Expert for Civils, Metal Rainwater & Drainage.

While we’ve seen a very good start to the year, with a high level of enquiries and a strong order book, the lack of clarity on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations is leading to increasing market uncertainty. If this situation continues it will affect project starts and put a question mark over commitments in the pipeline. The industry needs to be confident that the increase in enquiries and tenders will convert to orders and live jobs in the short to medium term.

There’s also a risk of lead times of products sourced from other European countries being affected, with duties and delays in customs. Both would have a negative impact on the supply chain for many building products, including our rainwater and drainage products.

From our perspective as a responsible supplier, Alumasc Water Management Solutions (AWMS) has taken steps to ensure that any impacts from Brexit will be as low as possible for customers. Along with other measures, we’re increasing stock levels to mitigate disruption and supply problems from our European suppliers.

Movement in the exchange rate is another potential problem. The pound weakened after the 2016 referendum, which immediately affected import costs, and although sterling’s exchange rate has improved, it hasn’t got back to pre-referendum levels. This type of fall could be replicated post-Brexit, especially if we end up with a ‘no-deal’ situation. That would lead to increased cost prices on imported products.

Despite these concerns, our outlook is positive for 2019. We haven’t seen any major impact in terms of demand so far and we’re well prepared for whatever changes Brexit brings. However, with endless discussing, debating and public agonising over Brexit, the current situation is energy sapping for the whole industry. The industry needs clarity on what the deal will mean for the UK, so we can make plans and get on with Brexit.

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