Although I can’t resist stating that if our own business had advanced to the same degree as Brexit since June 2016 I’d be pretty ashamed of everyone involved; me included.
Thankfully Fourayes has advanced significantly in the last two and a half years despite the vagaries of the Brexit negotiations. In one particular respect, Brexit has even been a help rather than a hindrance: it encouraged us to undertake an exercise that I’m not sure we would have had Brexit not been so topical.
Chris Hadfield, the Canadian astronaut who spent 6 months from December 2012 on the International Space Station, posted images of the Earth to social media platforms and famously rendered is own guitar-accompanied version of David Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’, admits to being driven by one overriding imperative whilst in space. He regularly asked himself the question: ‘what’s the next thing that might kill me?’ and then dealt with the conclusions.
I’m not for one moment suggesting that we’ve spent the last two and a half years at Fourayes trying to determine what might kill us but Brexit did lead us to undertake a root and branch review of our vulnerabilities; and to determine how they might be mitigated.
We began by forming a task force with representatives from all the key departments: Production, Technical, Engineering, Product Development, Purchasing and the like.
We then asked each highly-experienced task force member to identify those areas within their own jurisdictions that might be vulnerable to a ‘no deal’ or one of the other potential Brexit results. We reviewed the supply chain in each area, geographic dependencies, staffing and a myriad other topics.
Initially the task seemed gargantuan but the team very quickly determined which issues were really more of an inconvenience and which were mission-critical.
Meeting on a regular basis they eliminated the easy-to-resolve issues until only those most critical to the Business, and to continuity of customer supply, remained.
These were discussed and debated and solutions identified for each. Perhaps surprisingly, the solutions mostly revolved around increasing stock-holdings – machine parts, key ingredients and the like – although this, in itself, proved not to be an easy fix given the pressure on UK storage space at present.
What the exercise did do is three things: it made us take a critical and non-complacent look at the Business; it triggered some vital actions – such as securing additional storage and it ensured that everyone in the Business is aware of the vulnerabilities that could, if not mitigated, cause us to default on our promises.
Thankfully that’s now not going to happen and whilst I’m not sure we have Chris Hadfield to thank for that I am certain that Brexit had a hand in it!
Managing Director of Fourayes, vice-chairman of British Apples & Pears, Fruitician and Mad Scientist.