Like all UK businesses, we continue to face uncertainty on the implications of the UK leaving the EU. Even after the General Election we cannot be 100% certain whether Britain will leave the EU in January under the withdrawal agreement, or whether the UK will benefit from a trade agreement with the EU looking ahead to January 2021 and beyond.
Despite this ongoing uncertainty, we remain fully committed to our business and customers in the UK. We are well prepared for all possible Brexit scenarios and have been putting in place practical measures to pro-actively mitigate any disruption to the supply to our customers in the UK and Ireland, and to protect our workforce. We have remained focused on these topics despite the extensions on the date the UK will leave the EU, and throughout the political discussions.
Further to this, the Hilti Group is global and already manages the supply of goods to many other Hilti operations based in countries outside of the EU. The Group operates through 29,000 employees in over 120 countries and we are assured that our production lines will not be affected by Britain’s exit from the EU.
Throughout 2020 we will continue to monitor our requirements for safety stock in the UK to ensure a sustainable supply of goods to our customers, and have been working in close collaboration with our transport carriers to ensure a smooth transition. In case there are ultimately any unacceptable delays or other issue with future supply to the Republic of Ireland, we have put in place contingency plans for local warehousing and after-market services for our customers, to address the potential challenges ahead.
Although the majority of our products are manufactured outside of the UK, in the short term we are not expecting significant import tariffs to be introduced on most of the products we import from the EU. This is the case even if the UK ultimately leaves the EU without agreeing a trade deal and we recognise this is good news for our customers.
We will continue to be a business which puts our people at the heart of our organisation and firmly believe in the benefits of working with diverse and integrated teams. We are supporting and offering guidance to our team members who are EU citizens wishing to continue to work and live in the UK.
At this point, no one really knows what Brexit will bring or when it will happen. I would encourage you to take heart from the fact that Hilti is committed to delivering for our customers in the UK, as we have been since 1958, and have the backing of a solid Global organisation.
General Manager, GB and Northern Europe