Kerry Haywood speaks to a selection of British manufacturers to discover the impact of Brexit, the pandemic and global logistics and what that means for turfcare innovation.
Cresco has been importing and distributing spreaders since the 1970s and, over the years, have seen it all. Director Marcus Palmer told us about the challenges they have faced.
In February 2016, David Cameron set the date of the EU referendum to be 23rd June that year. From that date, multiple macro-economic factors affected us so dramatically that we had to rethink and reinvent our business. A hidden effect of the decision to hold a referendum was the devaluation of £ Sterling by 20%, effectively increasing cost prices of imported goods.
We have faced the Brexit challenges which have been magnified with the Covid pandemic, global logistics issues and the more recent Russia/Ukraine conflict driving inflation. At no time since WWII have we encountered such a difficult period to be in business.
Brexit has undoubtedly had a considerable impact on our manufacturing processes, with changes in trading relationships, regulations and supply chains. We have had to grapple with increased customs checks, tariffs and non-tariff barriers, leading to delays and higher costs. These challenges forced us to adapt and innovate, seeking alternative supply sources and distribution channels.
With the development of the CRESCO product range, we implemented strategic changes to minimize disruptions and maintain competitiveness in the market. We focused on establishing strong relationships with international suppliers and investing in research and development, showcasing resilience in the face of Brexit-related challenges.
Marcus Palmer - Director, Cresco
COVID-19 further complicated our situation. Lockdowns, social distancing measures and reduced demand in various industries led to disruptions in production and distribution. We pivoted and adapted our operations to ensure the safety of our employees while maintaining productivity.
Our agile response to the pandemic involved quickly implementing safety protocols, adopting remote working where possible, and reconfiguring production lines to cater to shifting market demands. This proactive approach enabled us to navigate pandemic-related challenges and maintain a strong presence in the industry.
Global logistics played a significant role in shaping our manufacturing landscape. The pandemic highlighted vulnerabilities in global supply chains, prompting us to reassess our logistics strategies. Faced with shipping delays, capacity constraints and increased freight costs, we re-evaluated our reliance on American suppliers and prioritised other international sourcing where possible.
We adapted by investing in digital technologies to streamline our supply chain management and enhance visibility. This focus on innovation and agility allowed us to better navigate the complex global logistics landscape and continue to deliver quality products to our customers.
By embracing change and prioritising strategic investments in technology and international partnerships, British manufacturers can continue to thrive and contribute significantly to the UK's economic growth.
James Buckholt - Manging Director, BMS
Stretegic changes to operations
BMS Products, a leading manufacturer of turf care hand tools and golf course accessories, has had to adapt to the changes brought on by Brexit.
Brexit has forced BMS to make some strategic changes to their operations, including employing and training additional staff and bringing more manufacturing in-house. This includes additional engineering, welding and technical fabrications, which provides more control over quality and lead times. These changes have helped the company to reduce their reliance on overseas suppliers and improve their ability to respond to customer needs.
While raw material increases have affected some areas of the business, BMS has been working with supply partners to mitigate the impact. This has become a large part of the company's daily duties, and they continue to look for ways to manage costs and remain competitive.
To support their growth, BMS has recently relocated to a new, larger facility. This move will allow the company to expand their product development and research and development efforts, which will benefit their customers in the long term. With a focus on innovation and new product offerings, BMS is poised to continue their success in the amenity industry.
Despite the challenges of Brexit, BMS remains optimistic about the future. In fact, since Brexit, their export business has doubled with new partners in Europe and other countries. By focusing on their strengths and investing in their people and facilities, BMS is positioning themselves for long-term growth and success.
From the company owner, the changes brought on by Brexit have presented both challenges and opportunities for BMS Products. By taking a strategic approach to their operations, investing in their facilities, and staying committed to their customers, BMS has been able to adapt and thrive in the new business landscape. As the company looks towards the future, they remain optimistic about the opportunities ahead and are excited to continue their growth in the turf care and amenity industry.
Ian Howard - Managing Director, Howardson Group
We are over the worst of it now
Logistics has been a major challenge for the manufacturers of the Dennis and SISIS range of grounds maintenance equipment.
Brexit also posed a huge challenge, due to the vast amount of paperwork and documents which were required to get products into Europe. We had a lot of training to overcome these issues and it has been a seamless transition.
The pandemic created another challenge when the phone suddenly stopped ringing and people could no longer have demonstrations.
At the start, the order book had gone to an all-time low but, as things improved, the order number rocketed past any previous year. Product sales grew 46% and, in 2022, we grew 35% on top of that previous year. It remains (as of April 2023), approximately three times what it is normally this time of year; both petrol and electric machines.
As far as logistics are concerned, obtaining components has been a massive challenge. It can range from weeks to months and, in some cases, in excess of over a year to get hold of some components.
We have seen a 25% increase in the cost of components. We have done our best to keep control of the costs, but unfortunately, the cost has had to be passed onto the consumers. Energy, electric and gas bills have more than doubled, therefore manufacturing costs have had to also increase.
Despite all the challenges, we have continued to invest in innovation including new products and further development of our electric range of products. Further investment came at the end of 2022, when we purchased Lloyds Mowers of Letchworth and Hunter Grinders. Continual investment, at an ever-growing rate, is critical to our long-term success.
Kevin Utton - Sports Sales and Marketing Director, Harrod Sport
High increases in raw materials
As a business, Harrod Sport have very much navigated our way through troubled waters in a positive way.
It has been a challenging time for nearly all businesses in the Sports trade. Post-pandemic has seen peaks and troughs with some benefits of surges being seen after pent-up demand.
As manufacturers, two of the most impactful issues; post Brexit and the pandemic have seen high increases in raw material costs and this was only compounded by a huge shortage of supply and elongated supply chain delays.
We would have all expected these issues to lessen as the pandemic became less impactful to our daily lives, however, the events in Ukraine have meant costs have only continued to rise further as much of the world has to deal with resourcing certain vital materials and energy costs - increases at levels not before witnessed.
These increases have been compounded again by the welcomed progress of quality of life, but ill-timed large hikes in the living wage rates and a desire to do the right thing by staff, results in some hefty and very much unprecedented labour increases in the past few years.
All in all, this has resulted in higher prices across the marketplace, with the end user seeing large increases in cost alongside suppliers and manufacturers also losing out with a drop in margin.
There has been a lot of challenges and these will continue with high inflation, but we will adapt and succeed. We are always looking to try and do the right thing for consumers, clients and staff alike.