think the attitude towards British manufactured products began to change well before Brexit,” he says. “The quality of UK manufactured products has never been questioned. They are in a class of their own. Prices of Chinese product have risen sharply, with the cost of Chinese wages soaring over recent years. Their aspirations seem difficult to satisfy and we can only assume they will continue rising. That puts prices on a level-ish playing field. They pay about the same for their raw materials as we do.” Tony says staying ahead of your competitors

is paramount

to continued success when in a period of uncertainty. “What More, for example, have spent £25 million completely renewing our total manufacturing facility with state of the art injection moulding machines from Germany and Italy. We have built and are building new facilities that keep us ahead of the game. Security of supply is always uppermost in the minds of our buyers. We provide that security and at the right quality and at the right price. We can get a pallet of product to anywhere in the UK in less than 24 hours,” he says. “Ask yourself,” Tony probes, “Beijing or Burnley?”

Monument Tools managing

director, Jonathan Collier says he hasn’t noticed much change at the business during the process of Brexit: “Apart from the FX rate changes over the last couple of years there has been relatively little change – we could make no plans or decisions based on anything which

“The UK has a strong history of facing up to adversity and coming out the other side victorious.”

Tony Grimshaw, director of What More UK

politics (has not) decided. Owner of DIY store, Blundell’s Home Hardware, Nick Thompson says the business hasn’t need to do much preparation for Brexit, but what they had done worked in their favour: “The only preparation we made really was to take a full 22 pallet load of compost from Westland at the beginning of the season instead of our usual 11. This was a precaution in case of any temporary disruption at the ports. Obviously that never happened but that being said, we have just placed another order a month ahead of our second drop last year so it turned out to be good business.” “I try not to think about it. Brexit has joined Politics and Religion, which is not for discussion at Blundell’s and life is better for that,” he laughs. Unlike Tony, Jonathan from Monument Tools thinks the attitudes towards stocking British- made products is a mixed bag, and the company had spoken to a “major merchant group who felt it added zero value to their business, but when we speak to groups of

engineers they feel that they would support Made In Britain products – whether this is a post Brexit announcement phenomenon is difficult to tell as we probably never asked the question previously,” he says.

Nick Thompson says Blundell’s “haven’t

really noticed a Brexit

effect, so other than our ban on Brexit discussions at the counter, it’s pretty much business as usual. We don’t have any particular policy on buying British. We like to support local companies/suppliers if we can, Algon (our best-selling cleaning line) is locally produced for environmental reasons, and just because it’s a great product, we only sell British Kiln dried logs, from Certainly Wood in Wales.”

Waiting game

One of the biggest problems of Brexit is the continuous delays to the exit, as the deadline continues to be pushed, businesses pre-empting challenges are facing cost strains as they stockpile to meet demand. Tony at What More UK says cost is usually “up a lot and then down a bit” and this is usually because of demand or availability. “We, like a lot of others have built up buffer stocks to lower our risk. It causes a strain on cash flow, but it is necessary to provide our customers with that security of supply. The problem is that we have to maintain this buffer stock, nothing happened as was promised in March,” he says. Evergreen Garden Care managing

director Mark Portman says that in the lead up to the expected exit date

in April he knew that “there was concern regarding the importing of plants and whether there is a need for specific licences. On our categories there is a potential tariffs on some imported goods which again can have a negative effect due to the potential on-cost and we await to understand what any regulatory changes would be.” At Evergreen, Mark says the company will continue its core focus on having its customers fall in love with their gardens again, and

over any political changes. “The fundamentals

this will take of

strong and there are

gardening are so many

positives connected with time in the garden this is what we are focused on. Our marketing communication is based around enjoying the love of the garden and creating products which enable all to enjoy their time together.

It is this approach to encourage

more consumers to do up their garden and use more our Miracle- Gro and Roundup products than any Brexit effect we will focus on.” He continues: “As we look to 2020 and beyond we have an exciting range of new products to launch and we will continue to further invest behind these brands next year. As mentioned with regard to our manufacturing investment, we have to manage the business in the right way no matter what the final outcome is regarding Brexit.” Overall Jonathan says Brexit can’t be determined to be positive or negative as “so many businesses are structured so differently,” but he settles with the fact “it will be good for some and horrific for others. Whilst the manufacturing sector represents an important part of the whole market my personal belief is that Brexit must address ALL issues – this is hugely complex and could not be answered by a simple binary vote.”

And What More UK director,

Tony concludes with fact that he thinks the UK needs to stop being underestimated: “The UK has a strong history of facing up to adversity and coming out the other side victorious. We are at our best when we are up against it. We have an adaptable, well trained

workforce that precedence


their companies to succeed. We have focused management. We have world-beating products and services. We have UK durability - you can’t buy that. We can box using the Marquis of Queensbury rules and we can street fight. Let our competitors choose which set of rules they want to play by, then bring it on!” 10 MAY 2019 DIY WEEK 19

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