Friday 15 December 2017

Brexit Case Study: 'We took specific actions to increase our sales activity in the UK'

Sean O'Sullivan
Sean O'Sullivan

Sean O'Sullivan is managing director of Seabrook, a manufacturing software business that works primarily with manufacturers in life sciences.

After the June referendum his concerns were about protectionist policies making life difficult for Seabrook in the British market, about a potential decline in investment by manufacturers due to uncertainty, and about a hit to the Irish economy.

"There were very few clear actions that we could take because it wasn't really until this past week that the vote was solidified with the announcement by the Prime Minister," O'Sullivan told the Sunday Independent.

"But we took specific actions to increase our sales activity in the United Kingdom, not decrease it.

"That meant that we were taking our products and our services to various locations, carrying out workshops and seminars to make sure that when there was a change, we were recognised as having a large presence in the United Kingdom."

O'Sullivan was pleased to hear Toyota chairman Takeshi Uchiyamada express the view that British manufacturers would have to improve their competitiveness - O'Sullivan sees that as a potential boon for his business.

He was also cheered by the results of the last British manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), which put manufacturing growth at a 30-month high.

One of the publishers of the PMI said a "fizz in new orders signals good news for UK manufacturers which have previously been hit by uncertainties following the EU referendum, and the sector looks set to reach a more robust growth path at the start of 2017".

"We all expected that the threat of Brexit would have an impact. The opposite actually happened - output increased significantly," O'Sullivan said.

"We're going to up our sales calls and our seminars and so forth. That's the only way that Irish companies can react to this.

"It seems as if the world is going to fall apart but the reality is you can't just lift up manufacturing companies and carry them across in a boat, because of their size. You can't shut down a manufacturing company and hope to have it open in China in six months time. Manufacturing will continue in the UK and my belief, and certainly my hope, is that manufacturing will expand in the UK because they will need to make more products internally in the UK, particularly if there are increased tariffs in Europe.

"That's good news for Irish people who serve the manufacturing market. When you look at it first you think it's going to be a disaster, but if you're smart enough and you have the right people, we believe that you'll survive.

"We may have a little down time but we're 28 years old and I'd be a liar if I said we didn't have a down time before. I'd be optimistic having established the facts to date."

Sunday Indo Business

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