Procurement professionals planning post-Brexit revised supply relationship management initiatives, new strategic sourcing operations, and new opportunity assessments could face a bumpier ride than expected, as new data suggests that 16% of UK port and harbour authorities have ‘significant and practical plans’ in place for Britain’s withdrawal from the EU on 29 March.
The finding comes from a new poll of 100 British port and harbour authorities by the executive search company, Odgers Berndtson, which reveals that the remaining 84% of respondents have undertaken “little or no planning for Brexit.” 59% of the port leaders surveyed expect that Brexit will have a ‘negative or strongly negative’ effect on port operations, with physical blockages and increased complexity emerging as the two highest concerns.
The majority (80%) consider physical infrastructure as the most pressing priority for new investment, while the technology for helping ports reconfigure to a post-Brexit landscape emerged as the second highest priority (cited by 47%). Paul Butterworth, Head of Maritime & Shipping Practice at Odgers Berndtson, said: “The ports industry is keen to seize on any opportunities arising from Brexit, but this is the first real indication of what’s actually happening outside ports like Dover.”
Only a quarter of respondents said they were well placed to handle Brexit, while a third believe that extra investment will be needed if they are to cope with the change. 40% reported that they either didn’t know or were doubtful about their port’s capacity to manage extra traffic volumes. Responding, the British Ports Association said they were planning for a range of scenarios on 29 March and beyond for its member ports and terminals. According to World Maritime News, ferry ports in southern England are expected to be the most affected when ties to their direct counterparts on the continent are cut, while Seaborne Freight, the firm contracted to provide ferry services, warns that it will be unable to provide sufficient services until the latter part of April.