Supply chain 6 December 2017
Five tips for strengthening supplier relationships after Brexit
Here, director at the Chartered Institute of Procurementand Supply (CIPS), Duncan Brock, shares his tips for’strengthening supplier relationships. Brexit will be a significant turning point for UK businesses, given that the EU is the UK’s largest trading partner. Some 43 per cent of all UK exports go to the EU, whilst 54 per cent of all imports come from the EU. Preparing for Brexit is one of thebiggestchallenges facing businessestoday, particularly due to the level of uncertainty around what it will mean for them and the future of their trading. A number problems are created for international supply chains, pushing up costs and probably causing delays. As a result, it’s no surprise that nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of EU businesses who work with UK suppliers expect to move their supply chain out of the UK, according to a survey amongst the procurement and supply community this year. Similarly, two fifths (63 per cent) of UK businesses with EU suppliers have begun the search for domestic suppliers to replace their EU partners. Switching suppliers is often a lengthy and costly process, and many of those looking to switch suppliers may struggle to find suitable alternatives, particularly within the limited amount of time they have left before the UK leaves the EU. Having recently given evidence to a government committee for exiting the EU, it became clear to me that although Brexit means it will become more difficult to trade with EU countries post-Brexit, those that have good supplier relationships with their EU partners are more likely to be able to work through any speedbumps. Getting to know your suppliers can bring significant benefits. They are more likely to offer better prices, invest in their business to meet your future needs and generally provide support beyond contractual terms. If you treat them well, they may help to come up with innovative new ideas. Foreign suppliers may even agree to build manufacturing capabilities in the UK if businesses provide them with certainty, which would be a significant help in navigating Brexit. Equally, from a supplier’s perspective, having a good relationship with your customers, whilst also showing that you have a good understanding of their business and are willing to support them, could mean they do more business with you and are less likely to consider switching. You could think about setting some shared objectives, so both parties feel like they’re truly working together. Here are some tips on how you can strengthen some of those supplier relationships.