As an exporter of customised noise control solutions to international markets across key EU regions, UK and the USA we take every step necessary to ensure we meet our customers requirements in both the quality of our products and the delivery and installation process. The announcement of Brexit highlighted key issues for us in sourcing materials and possible disruptions to our UK customers, but we acted quickly and started the process of preparing for Brexit.
Darren Fortune, Managing Director of Ventac outlines how Ventac are preparing for Brexit.
- How important is broadening the enterprise and export base for small Irish firms as Brexit looms?
The UK market is one of Ventac’s key export markets as it is for many small businesses in Ireland. As we don’t know how Brexit may affect the UK economy, we are planning for all outcomes. We have been in regular communications with our key customers in the UK to let them know that we are preparing for, and ready for Brexit. In addition, we have been diversifying our export markets by focusing more on other EU markets such as Czech Republic, Spain and Portugal. To reduce risk and over dependence on the UK market, I believe it is key for small Irish firms to research other markets outside of the UK.
Innovation is at the heart of everything we do at Ventac. In light of Brexit we have adopted a strategic approach to innovation to improve our competitive advantage. Innovation isn’t something that’s confined within the four walls of our R&D laboratory, it extends to the core of our company and our people – from simple daily procedures and practices to lean methodologies in our manufacturing facilities. At Ventac, innovation is all about the customer which, along with future trends drives innovation forward in our business.
- How is Ventac preparing for Brexit?
We have a Brexit team and a Brexit action plan which we have implemented. Despite the extensions to the deadline dates for the UK to withdraw from the EU, our Brexit team continue to meet regularly to ensure our plan is on track. Our plan has included having a physical presence in the UK with a local country manager recruited in 2018 who is based in the UK to relationship manage our existing UK based customers. We have a key account management plan in place which assists us in maintaining strong working relationships with our UK based customers. We have carried out a detailed analysis of our UK competitors to identify where Ventac is positioned in the market.
We have foreign forward exchange lines in place to help reduce Sterling exchange risk. A detailed costing exercise was carried out to understand the margins currently being obtained across our product range with action to be taken to increase margin as required and where possible.
We have an EORI number for exporting and we have Commodity Codes (CN) for our products which will be required in a no deal scenario. Research has shown us that exports customs clearance is not seen as an issue for us in the event of a hard Brexit if we have all the structures in place. We undertook an assessment of our raw materials and finished goods inventories with the view to increasing UK supplier stock by one-month and manufacturing and holding an additional one month of finished goods for our key UK customers.
We are currently working with a consultant to review all our UK suppliers and customers to ensure they are ready for Brexit. We also used a consultant to obtain the best supplier terms from existing suppliers and source new suppliers as appropriate. We have carried out a ‘dry run’ Brexit day with our logistics partners to ensure we have all the correct documentation in place.
- What is coming down the line for Ventac in 2020?
We have a lot of exciting projects in the pipeline that we expect to come to fruition in 2020. Several Ventac team members have undertaken Lean Yellow Belt training this year and we expect to see the cost saving benefits next year. We are implementing a new ERP system which will give us greater ability to forecast and manage capacity in production.
Ventac recently signed a five year global contract with a key customer in the USA which presents a huge opportunity for us in the USA. We have a Market Access Grant from Enterprise Ireland to carry out further market research in the USA as we see it as key growth market for our business in 2020. Spain and Portugal markets are another growth opportunity for Ventac. We have few competitors in Spain and a high number of bus and coach companies creating a high potential market for Ventac.
We have an innovation partnership with the University of Limerick’s IComp (Irish Composites Centre) through which we are bringing an exciting, innovative product to market for bus and coach OEMs. We are currently in the manufacturing stage of the project with expected release to market next year – stay tuned!
Any questions on this article or want to find out more about Ventac? Get in touch with us today.