Brexit: Brace for impact, BWF chief tells woodworking industry

24 June 2016

The joinery industry needs to brace itself against a “barrage of news and spin” as the UK enters into the uncharted waters of a post-EU world, according to the British Woodworking Federation (BWF), but the organisation said well-prepared businesses will be able to weather the storms of change.

“For the UK, its people and its economy, we are entering a new chapter in history. But for the joinery manufacturing and woodworking industry, what matters now is that firms are well informed and well prepared to assess risk,” said chief executive Iain McIlwee. “From that position of preparedness, businesses will be able to ride through the inevitable period of change ahead with greater confidence and optimism.”

The BWF chief made his comments in a statement released in the wake of today’s Brexit win, which saw the UK vote to leave the European Union (EU).

The organisation has prepared a “risk matrix” for members to help them “brace for impact” as they face the changes brought about by Brexit.

“Some of the risks will be immediate, such as fluctuating currency,” McIlwee added. “The impact on material and component imports must be factored into estimates and companies must ensure they are not caught out on projects that they have already quoted on, but materials have not been secured. Some is longer term and the force of the impact will depend very much on how our Government reacts.

“Government must set aside petty squabbling and personal ambition and unite cross-party to end the period of uncertainty as soon as possible and start creating this new future we have been promised. We have already heard from leading political spokesmen what this means to their party. Frankly we are not interested.

“Attention must now be targeted not internally in Westminster, but on those parts of the economy that create wealth and jobs. We need to work with Government and the Civil Service to ensure that the manufacturing sector is not left to struggle through uncertainty, but is placed in an incubator ensuring that we emerge for any short-term blips and can start growing again, adding jobs and value to the new economy.

"Initially this must come through tax breaks, incentives to employ and light touch legislation. We must also ensure that public sector procurement, now unfettered by EU policies, very carefully measures and takes into account the socioeconomic impact of decisions within specification.”