Redditch, UK: Having negotiated the divorce settlement, the Brexit talks now shift to trade. Industry looks on with bated breath, desperate for clear direction.
The food sector is known for tight margins and even tighter timescales. Layer Brexit on top of this and we could have increased prices and border delays. The exact opposite of what is constantly being strived for. But opposites attract, or so we are told. They do if you know how.
Oakland International have been at the forefront of supply chain innovation and first class service delivery since their inception 20 years ago. Brexit is an opportunity for Oakland to show what they are made of and they appear to be up for the challenge.
As Dean Atwell, chief executive co-founder of Oakland says: “We have a continuous improvement ethos at Oakland and are constantly looking for ways to drive efficiencies and resilience in to the supply chain.”
These are not throw-away taglines. Oakland has developed tempering and co-pack services which not only extend the life of conventional chilled products but also allow frozen suppliers to enter the fast-growing chilled arena. Oakland work with producers to design final packaging and was the first company to introduce in-case coding.
“We like to think of ourselves as supply chain engineers.” Atwell says.
Brexit is a complication many businesses could do without. Although Oakland as a business wanted to remain in the EU, they firmly believe that we must now see it as an opportunity to excel. Recognising the challenges ahead and the opportunities this creates, they secured the support of Robert Hardy, a heavyweight in cross border logistics and customs.
A former director of P&O Ferries and EurotunnelPlus Robert has spent the last five years developing the largest 24hour customs freight clearance facility in the UK, at the Port of Dover. Furthermore, he is an advisor to The Institute for Government on matters relating to customs and Brexit, a funded advisor to InterTradeIreland and a registered expert with the EU Commission specialising in international trade.
With platforms in the UK, Ireland and Spain, Oakland have reached the point where they are now looking forward to making the most out of Brexit. It is keen to share its optimism with other key players in the fast moving and ever-changing food sectors and have taken the bold step to hold a series of seminars to help customers plan for the worst and prepare for the best.
Robert joined the board of Oakland early this year and is now heading their Brexit team. “Oakland is ideally placed to take the drama out of Brexit, to ensure that customers see, at worst, no change and instead perceive an opportunity to improve, broaden and further develop their supply chain,” Hardy says. Oakland have taken the No Deal default scenario and shown how retailers and, crucially, their suppliers can benefit from the changes brought about by Brexit.
“Oakland has designed a process whereby, even with full customs formalities, the additional elements can run concurrently with little or no effect on the movement of goods, including to or from Ireland.” Robert says.
The first Brexit seminar will be held at the Crowne Plaza at the NEC, Birmingham on the 28th February and is already attracting a great deal of attention. “The seminars will offer a clear plan and a coherent strategy that can make Brexit work for you,” Hardy says.
“The resounding message is not to wait for the politicians to tell you what to do – do it now. There are already elements in place that will lessen the effect of Brexit and differentiate those from the under-prepared. You just need to know where to look.”
Details of the events can be found at: www.mybrexit.uk