Since the UK declared its intention to withdraw from the EU, a process that has become known as ‘Brexit’, British Gypsum has worked carefully to examine the implications and put into effect a number of strategies to minimise potential impact on supply.
Even though Brexit happened on 31 January 2020, both the UK and the EU still need to work out the rules of their new relationship. This includes everything from trade, immigration, security and a whole host of other topics. These new rules have to be negotiated and signed-off by the EU and UK parliaments by the end of the year.
We have taken a number of steps to ensure our business continuity planning remains robust and relevant to the changing status of Brexit. This centres on the three key identified areas for British Gypsum of:
- Product Availability
- Customs Clearance
- Product Regulations
1. Product Availability
We will build a higher level of finished stock, however this will be limited for three reasons; the continued recovery of our stock position across the market following the impact of the Covid-19 shutdown earlier this year, the defined shelf life of our plaster products, and by our plans to ensure the continued running of our UK based mining and manufacturing for plaster and plasterboard.
Working with our supply partners we have already begun building stocks of key raw materials and drylining system accessories imported from the EU and globally. Our maintenance stores will carry additional stocks of key production equipment typically imported in the event of machinery malfunctioning.
2. Customs Clearance
With our distribution partners XPO, we will be using a system of automatic customs clearance to ensure the passage of all imported raw materials and other goods arriving from the EU, and any products exported to the EU is as seamless as possible.
The automated customs clearance system will ensure that all goods imported from the EU pass through any border checks as quickly and seamlessly as possible. All customs checks and declarations, can be carried out in advance using systems that link directly with HMRC, so that vehicles can pass unhindered ensuring continuation of the same levels of service and availability we have experienced to date.
3. Product Regulations
British Gypsum will continue to comply to the CE marking regulations enabling product to move freely into Northern Ireland and other EU countries. In addition to this, the UKCA mark will be applied to all relevant products by the end of 2021. This will allow us to continue to supply our full range of products and systems to our existing UK and EU customers.
In addition to our current activity with regard to Product Regulations, for the ongoing safety of our customers we are monitoring the development of UK REACH, UK BPR and CLP. All our materials and products are presently compliant with current EU regulation. As the UK specific guidance develops we will take steps to adhere to all UK legal requirements in these matters, committing both internal resource to achieve this and working with our suppliers.
We are the only UK manufacturer that mine, mill and manufacture plaster and plasterboard in the UK, and whilst we do necessarily import raw materials, machinery and equipment from the EU and globally we are confident that we are as prepared as we can be to navigate changes necessitated as a result of Brexit and minimise any impact to ongoing supply.
Our aim is to ensure continuous supply of our plaster, plasterboard and drylining systems and we will continue to work closely with all our usual customers to meet the needs of the market and our customers during this period.
We will continue to track all new developments in these key identified areas in the coming months, to ensure our plans remain robust. As a company familiar with the demands of international trade we are confident in the skills and expertise of our business to cope with any changes necessitated following the agreement of new rules between the UK and the EU following Brexit.
Managing Director, British Gypsum