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Brexit risks force retailers into major review says Chamber

West Midlands wholesale and retail businesses are being forced to review their major suppliers and customers in a bid to stave off Brexit-related risks, a new report reveals today.

Published on 9 December 2019



Paul Faulkner Paul Faulkner

48% of wholesale and retail businesses surveyed in a Business Brexit Health Check are conducting reviews of their major suppliers and customers, while 33% are adapting their import and export strategies.

A Health Check has been designed and delivered by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC), Black Country Chamber of Commerce (BCCC) and Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce (C&WCC) to produce bespoke information for businesses, highlighting areas of their operations that are exposed to Brexit-related change, tips on preparing and information on support available.

Key findings included:
• The proportion of businesses reporting potential exposure to Brexit-related change is significantly higher in the wholesale and retail sector than in the services industry.
•78% of wholesale and retail firms purchase goods from non-UK EU Nations.
•61% trade in Euros or other non-UK currencies.

Tony Elvin, the general manager of Touchwood in Solihull said that while many of the shopping centre’s retail partners are enjoying year-on-year sales increases, further Brexit uncertainty is likely to affect consumer confidence.

He said: “With Christmas around the corner, we still have the busiest season of the year to go. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story.

“Within those numbers we have partners that are trading significantly higher than last year, but some that are not performing as well as they expected.

“Whilst we have no tangible evidence to detail exactly how Brexit might be impacting on financial performance either way, this extended period of indecision is doing nothing for consumer confidence on the whole.”

Paul Faulkner (pictured), chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce said: “The retail and wholesale sector is a critical part of the city region. Over 200,000 people are employed in the wider retail and wholesale industry across the West Midlands Combined Authority area – over 16% of all jobs.

The sector, particularly on the retail side, is already experiencing well publicised headwinds. The future of the high street is a regular topic of the media debate.

“Our research shows that, due to the international nature of retail and wholesale supply chains, the sector is particularly exposed to Brexit-related change and the impact of ongoing uncertainty on the value of the pound.”

To complete a WMCA Business Brexit Health Check go to brexit.greaterbirminghamchambers.com

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