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East Midlands Chamber News

Conference attendance shows hunger for Brexit advice

The turnout at a conference to discuss business in a post-Brexit economy showed the appetite organisations have for guidance about what they should be doing to minimise the impact of the transition.


Even as the country waited for Prime Minister Theresa May to announce what stage talks had reached with only five months remaining to Brexit, speakers addressed a packed house at Nottingham Forest Football Club this morning.


It was standing-room only in the conference facility to hear a range of experts talk about what Britain’s withdrawal from the EU might mean for them.


The first part of the event focused on trade in a post-Brexit economy. It included addresses from Simon Hart, Brexit Lead Partner and Head of Knowledge Management, RSM, on Weathering Brexit volatility and Becky Stark, Director, Stark Export Focus on Trade and Brexit.


A panel discussion in this section, under the title of Managing Risk and International Trade, featured Becky, Dr Nik Kotecha, Chief Executive Officer at Morningside Pharmaceuticals, Keith Robe, Managing Director at Cusdec Customs Solutions and Dr Eugene Michaels, Applied Economist at the University of Derby.


The second phase of the conference focused on the skills gap that might occur post-Brexit and featured a keynote address from Rebecca McDonald, Analyst at Centre for Cities.


A second panel discussion featured Rebecca, Kevin Harris, Commercial Business and Audit Advisory Partner at RSM, Thai Vasishta, Group Chief Executive Officer at Paragon Law and Stephen Slack, People Manager at Flower World.


There were also various workshops arranged for the morning, each with a specific theme around Brexit.


Six months ago, the Chamber’s Brexit Advisory Group published a checklist of the minimum businesses should be doing to make their transition as seamless as possible.


Research carried out at the time found that 75% of businesses had not made plans to manage the potential financial impact of Brexit on their activities and 57% had not even discussed it at Board level.


East Midlands Chamber*, which organised the conference, is actively encouraging firms to take steps to plan for Brexit and has campaigned to make sure the needs of business drive the Government’s position in negotiations with the EU.


Scott Knowles, Chief Executive, said: “Opening the conference, I asked how many delegates had looked at the Chamber’s Brexit Advisory Group’s Checklist on our website. Only a few hands went up. The Chamber’s Brexit Checklist is an essential tool for businesses considering their Brexit scenario planning – I’d encourage all businesses to visit the Chamber web site to review this.


“You don’t have to be trading with the EU to be affected by Brexit. You might be trading with a country outside the EU but any agreement we have with that country will have been negotiated through the EU and won’t apply to the UK after 11pm on 29 March next year if we don’t have a deal or a transitional arrangement in place.


“That could result in delays to getting goods in or out of the country, getting paid for those goods or services, enforcing existing contracts or protecting intellectual rights, all of which could cause problems for UK.


“It is vital that firms don’t just sit back and wait for Brexit to happen to them. They must take steps now to protect their future.”