EU Exit Building Business Resilience

Talking Head


The Building Business Resilience Programme aims to ensure that businesses in the East Midlands are informed and prepared to deal with any challenges that may result from the UK’s departure from the European Union, as well as to help them spot and capitalise upon opportunities that may result. The Programme offers a range of services to businesses:

  • Building Business Resilience – Getting Ready Briefings The Getting Ready briefings will combine a keynote talk from EU exit expert, Neil Warwick OBE, giving the latest insights from government, interactive support, an introduction to the Are You Ready? interactive audit tool and a chance to network with specialist advisers and support organisations from across the region who can provide you with specific advice and help.
  • Building Business Resilience – Making Sense of the Next Steps seminars Using the Are You Ready? interactive audit tool, these seminars will help you to identify what steps you need to take before December 2020 and develop a plan to help you get there on time, as well as thinking beyond the EU exit transition period and the opportunities and challenges that change brings to ensure your business can get fit for the future.
  • Building Business Resilience – Sector Opportunity Briefings and Workshops Sector-specific workshops for businesses in the Transport and Logistics, Engineering and Manufacturing, Tourism and Food and Drink sectors to help businesses in these sectors who may face particular challenges. For more details, please click on the link to the events listed below:
  • Building Business Resilience – one-to-one support In addition, businesses can also access one-to-one support from specialist advisors, who will help them improve their resilience, ensure they are on track to be EU exit-ready and develop a bespoke Action Plan to help them move forward with confidence.

The Programme is fully-funded at no cost to your business and is available to businesses of all sizes located in:

· Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire;

· Greater Lincolnshire, or;

· Leicester and Leicestershire.

Businesses can access up to 12 hours support – including any workshops or seminars they attend – to help them prepare for the UK’s exit from the EU and a further 12 hours to develop their resilience and look for opportunities for growth.

To express interest in the RESTART or Building Business Resilience Programmes, please complete the contact form.

Success Stories

Simon King, Haith’s

The business

Haith’s has been making hand-crafted bird food that’s healthy, natural and fresh since 1937. The company’s bird diets are blended on the premises by bird seed specialists, each of whom has years of bird seed experience and expertise.

Founder Ted Haith, who was a senior curator at Grimsby Zoo, decided that his bird collections would thrive on super-clean seed as he instinctively knew that dusty seed was harmful to birds. Ever since that day in 1937 Haith’s has led the way in seed cleaning, and its bird food specialists give the seeds the toughest workout in Britain.

Haith’s is also one of Europe’s leading suppliers of fishing bait ingredients and the company exports to more than 20 international markets.

The problem

In January 2021, UK exporters in the recreational bait sector faced immediate challenges resulting from the new trading arrangements with the EU:

  • full customs Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) controls were applied to commercial exports of recreational fishing baits containing animal by-products moving between the UK and EU.
  • businesses operating in this sector were unable to obtain clear, practical and accurate information from UK authorities as to the precise requirements for exporting to the EU and were experiencing serious difficulties in acquiring information from EU sources.

“These non-tariff barriers presented impediments to export success in a UK business sector composed primarily of SMEs such as Haith’s,” said Simon King, Director at Haith’s.

“New certification requirements were (and still are) onerous, time consuming and costly, and the proposed documentation didn’t reflect the nature of products in our sector, their production processes or the food/feed safety risks they present.

“As a result we needed help to understand the full impact of Brexit on our exports to the EU.”

The solution

Simon approached the Business Lincolnshire Growth Hub and was put in touch with Andrea Collins, who had helped Haith’s once before some years earlier by conducting an internationalisation review of Haith’s fishing ingredient website.

“Andrea created an EU Exit Action Plan for us which became the foundation of our strategy to bounce back from the non-tariff trade barriers,” said Simon.

“The plan ensured we had the things we could control, such as EORI numbers, classification of goods, duties imposed on UK goods, B2C and VAT, and it helped us with complex fundamentals such as country of origin and third country representation. It’s essential for a UK manufacturer to have a detailed understanding of rules of origin, and any of these issues can stop an exporter in its tracks.

“The EU Exit Action Plan became one of our go-to documents to jump-start our exports following Brexit.”

Simon says Andrea’s assistance was invaluable, and he has no hesitation in recommending the Growth Hub to others in a similar situation.

“Andrea’s plan helped us to resolve a large number of issues, which created more space for our export team to focus on the complex challenges that would need to be highlighted to the Department for International Trade (DIT) and trade ministers,” he said.

“The issues I’ve described are still barriers to trade, but we have changed our offering to remain competitive in the EU and export sales have bounced back. The Growth Hub’s support has helped us to become more resilient and has given us the confidence to protect our IP and market share.

“As a Northern Powerhouse Export Champion I also have to mention the efforts and support of the DIT. My advice is to have them on speed dial as they’re here to help UK exporters find new international markets for their goods.

“If you find yourself in need of support like we did I recommend you talk to those who are in a position to help. There’s a lot of support for exporters in and around the Lincolnshire area. Don’t suffer in silence and let your market share slip; there’s always a way, if there’s the will to look hard enough.”

Marie Palmer, Cast Iron Welding Services

The business

Cast Iron Welding Services based in Coalville, Leicestershire is a firm of cast iron welding engineers which serves markets worldwide. Its gas fusion welding process is known throughout the world and the company remanufactures and repairs cast iron components in the marine, power generation, industry, heritage, steam locomotive and vintage car markets.

The business has well over 70 years’ experience working with and repairing cast iron and can work on any component, from the smallest broken manifold lug to the largest diesel marine engine block.

Some of the company’s work is done at the customer’s site but most is undertaken in at Cast Iron Welding Services’ own premises.

The problem

Many items to be remanufactured or repaired by Cast Iron Welding Services come to the UK by sea. Director Marie Palmer knew that the UK’s exit from the EU would have a negative impact on the company’s operations, but because of Brexit uncertainty it was difficult for the business to understand the level of disruption to be expected.

“We needed help and advice on international trade and Brexit,” said Marie. “Brexit was always a concern for us. We tried to put plans in place but the way it was presented in the media – a deal has been done, everything will be fine – meant that a lot of people underestimated the paperwork and bureaucracy that we still had to go through.

“There’s a lot of friction there now that didn’t exist before. It’s probably not too bad for a UK business that’s trading with one or two EU countries, but we deal with many countries. Most of our work is repairing or remanufacturing items that are broken, and that can happen anywhere, at any time.

“Most of our customers are in shipping, which is a sector that requires a quick turnaround. The margins are quite tight and so any increase in administrative costs can make it harder for us to secure that work – and our customers don’t want the hassle either!”

The solution

Marie contacted the Department for International Trade, who signposted her to the Business Gateway Growth Hub. That led to a connection with Andrea Collins, International Trade Specialist and Managing Director at The Export Department in Swindon, and also highlighted some other avenues of funding for different projects.

“We’d always been in touch with DIT during the pandemic as there was no international travel to speak of and so they were a good resource to tap into,” said Marie. “We were talking to them about setting up online Teams meetings with target businesses, and I registered for the expert adviser support they offered.

“We had also been in touch with the Growth Hub before and they’ve been a great help, providing us with lots of information. We’d already done some research ourselves but they gave more structure and strategy to it and kept us focused. It was very helpful but there are still a lot of unknowns.”

Andrea supported Cast Iron Welding Services via the Growth Hub’s EU Exit Support Programme, focusing on customs special procedures and management of import duty/VAT on the goods they need to import for repair.

“We had three meetings with Andrea. She really did understand the business by the end and was able to provide us with all the relevant advice regarding obtaining a European VAT number and dealing with the new VAT situation. We were thinking we might have to set up our own facility in Europe to get round Brexit, and Andrea advised us on where we’d have to go to set that up and connected me with experts in that area.”

At the end of the process Andrea produced a report for Marie which condensed all the information and key areas that the business had to concentrate on.

“However the situation was still difficult because there were some uncertainties that had to be clarified,” said Marie. “Andrea and her colleagues worked really hard to try to tell us what the situation would be after 1st January, but there were still a lot of unknowns at that time.

“I’d definitely recommend the service. It took up quite a lot of our time but it was worth it. We were a business that was already trading internationally, so you’d like to think we were well placed to deal with Brexit, but we still needed support. It created huge uncertainty for businesses like ours and a lot of people underestimated the impact it would have.”

Claire Ransom, Lazy Flora

The business

Claire Ransom from Nottinghamshire had always dreamed of having a gorgeous garden. One day she would find a home with an outdoor space and create a tranquil garden filled with beautiful plants.

But when she finally moved into a flat with a balcony in 2015 she found it hard to realise her dream. Living in London without a car made it difficult to get the plants and equipment home.

“I’d been dreaming of having this gorgeous oasis, like an extra room outdoors that I could enjoy,” says Claire. “But when I finally got a balcony I realised how difficult it is to get plants on there if you haven’t got a car. I used to take the bus to the garden centre but the quality of the plants was terrible, the choice was terrible and I always came away disappointed.”

Around this time, online subscription services like Hello Fresh had started to take off, so Claire googled plant subscription services in the hope that she could get plants and garden sundries delivered to her door. To her surprise, there was no such thing as a plant subscription service in the UK – so she decided to create one.

“I thought it was a really good business idea, but it was too big and too scary so I didn’t do anything about it for a couple of years. Eventually the niggle got too great to ignore so I quit my job in publishing at Penguin Random House and launched Lazy Flora using Shopify as the online platform.

“Lazy Flora is a plant subscription service. We make gardening and plant ownership hassle free. We started out selling outdoor plants and now we also sell houseplants and edible plants.

“We launched five years ago but it really took off last year, thanks to a combination of good marketing and Covid-19. Our sales grew tenfold in the space of six weeks and our customer acquisition costs went through the floor, so we decided to jump on the opportunity and expand as quickly as we could. Inside five days at the start of the first lockdown around Easter 2020 we went from a two-room unit in a business centre in Arnold to a 7,000 square foot warehouse in Basford, which is where we still are today.”

The problem

Lazy Flora was thriving, but a dark cloud was looming on the horizon: Brexit. Claire imports a lot of her plants and items such as pots and compost from the Netherlands and other European countries, and she had no idea what the implications of Britain’s exit from the EU would be.

“Brexit was a headache for us, and it was very stressful,” she said. “No-one in our business was familiar with international shipping arrangements, what type of arrangements we had to agree with suppliers and so on. We also had to decide what to do about VAT, which was another big issue, and we had to deal with the new extra paperwork that had been introduced for plant imports on top of all the Brexit red tape.

“Since Brexit things have got a lot more difficult for importers like us. What used to take two or three days now takes two weeks, and there are three or four rounds of paperwork to complete to do with plant health. There are checks before the goods reach the border and more checks at our depot, which we had to register as an import location. It’s very complex.”

The solution

Claire knew about the business support and advice offered by the D2N2 Growth Hub, so she went to the website and saw an ad for a free consultation to help with Brexit and international trade issues. In autumn 2020 she booked herself a free half-hour session.

“That connected me with Andrea Collins, International Trade Specialist and Managing Director at The Export Department in Swindon, who became our advisor. She gave us all the information we needed on how to get plants in and out of the UK. We were so lucky – she was just amazing! You’re never sure with these free consultations what you’re going to get out of it, and whether you’re actually going to be sold to instead of helped. But Andrea instantly got into the detail of our business and offered helpful solutions immediately.

“And all this really high-quality advice was completely free. Andrea probably gave us four or five hours of free consultation, including several one-to-one sessions over Zoom as this was during lockdown. She wrote lengthy emails and summaries which were completely tailored to our business and not just off the shelf.

“We don’t need her help so much now but we’re still in touch with Andrea, and if we needed her advice I wouldn’t hesitate to get in contact with her. Without her help we would have floundered and I’d definitely recommend her to anyone else who’s looking for help with international trade.”