Mademoiselle Macaron chews over plans for EU exit

Now that we have reached the end of the transition period, small businesses may wish to re-focus their attention on ensuring their operations and supply chains are in the strongest possible position for the EU exit.

However, for many business owners, adapting to the impact of COVID-19 has been the priority for much of this year, and the overwhelming disruption brought on because of the pandemic, has significantly affected businesses ability to prepare for leaving the EU. The disruption has been even more threatening for small and medium-sized businesses who have fewer resources to devote to preparation.

One such business that has been impacted is Rachel Hanretty, and her team at Mademoiselle Macaron who are on a mission to bring the beautiful French delicacy to customers across the world.

She said: “This year my business has to learn to adapt to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic and in order to respond effectively, like many other business owners, I have been needed in a more ‘hands-on’ role, especially during the national lockdown when we had several of our team on furlough. Consequently, I’ve had less time to prepare for the end of the transition period then I expected at the start of 2020.

“At the beginning of the year, I tried to regularly revise budgets and forecasts to ensure I had the best idea about the impact leaving the EU would have on my business financially. However, due to the challenges of COVID-19 and the continuous negotiations, the spreadsheets are constantly changing, and there hasn’t been enough certainty about what our relationship with the EU will look like to accurately make projections.”

Many of Rachel’s concerns about the end of the transition period may be relatable to other business owners as they look ahead, with a number of firms in similar positions as 1st January 2021 approached.

At the beginning of the year, I tried to regularly revise budgets and forecasts to ensure I had the best idea about the impact leaving the EU would have on my business financially. However, due to the challenges of COVID-19 and the continuous negotiations, the spreadsheets are constantly changing.

Rachel said, “Recruitment has been a challenge, as, like other manufacturing businesses, we have struggled to attract UK workers to the roles we require. For my business, most of my team are European and while they all have the right to work, thinking in terms of my future growth, I will need to look at how to secure staff.”

To combat this, Rachel is looking at introducing an apprenticeship scheme. Through this Rachel hopes to attract young or mature UK students to apply to strengthen her team of Mesdemoiselles and Messieurs.

Increased costs associated with exporting products to the EU is also on the horizon, and Rachel highlighted how important it is for her business to have a firm understanding of what this will mean for her business and the price of her products.

She said, “I am already beginning to see prices increase from my suppliers and while I’ve tried to buy in bulk where possible to avoid increased costs that will be applicable from January, the lack of clarity associated with ongoing deal uncertainty has made preparing my customers for inevitable price increases difficult. In January, my first action will be to investigate what new costs apply, including any potential duty fees, so I can look at my prices and see what has to change.”

Leaving the EU has disrupted growth for some businesses, and at Mademoiselle Macaron, Rachel has had to respond by putting a stop to plans to set up international hubs, providing the business with kitchens abroad to allow the shipment of products internationally.

She said: “On reflection, like many business owners, I inevitably wish I had more time this year to put things in place for leaving the EU. However, this hasn’t been possible with the pandemic so my priority in January will be to make the most of resources available and work with partners to ensure my business remains as robust and healthy as possible.”

For up-to-date advice and information about how to prepare for leaving the EU, please visit https://www.prepareforbrexit.scot.

To speak to a local adviser about preparing your business for leaving the EU or any other business issue, contact your nearest Business Gateway office.

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