Runcorn & Widnes Weekly News

A smooth transition

HOW BUSINESSES MADE CHANGES AND ARE MOVING FORWARD UNDER THE NEW EU RELATIONSH­IP

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When Alison Wood, 25, and Mhairi Cochrane, 23, launched their sustainabl­e hygiene brand, Lilypads, last year, they knew they would have to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period pretty quickly.

Based in Edinburgh, theirs is a truly internatio­nal business. Their reusable period pads are manufactur­ed in Lithuania, and as well as donating 10 per cent of their revenue to subsidise period products in places such as Kenya, they also export to Spain, Holland and Denmark.

And as the UK has now left the EU customs union, all businesses that trade with Europe must follow new rules on exports, imports, hiring and travel. Unless you’ve prepared for the changes, your business may face disruption.

For Alison, preparatio­n meant running through a checklist to make sure the company was ready for new customs declaratio­ns, VAT rules and border control changes.

Although there was additional admin to take care of, Alison wasn’t daunted by it. “We already have our internatio­nal exports,” she says, “so it didn’t seem like that big a jump. I got used to commodity codes and we had profession­al advice from Business Gateway, who made it easy.

“I used the Brexit Checker tool on the gov.uk website and that flagged some of the things we hadn’t thought about. We export British materials and bring them back from Lithuania, so we must now declare how much material we’ve sent and how many pads are coming back.”

And now that Lilypads has its processes in place, things have gone smoothly post-transition and the company is looking forward to more growth.

“When we export to the EU, we have to declare what’s in the envelope, but we’re already doing this for our internatio­nal customers so it’s basically a sticker that says ‘reusable pads’ with our company name,” explains Alison.

“We pre-printed the stickers and stuck them on envelopes, so it took a bit of admin, but it’s not the end of the world. It’s been a few months of growth and change, but it’s looking fine.”

If you run a business and haven’t yet checked what you need to do to carry on trading with the EU, the time is now: see the checklist at gov.uk/ transition.

 ??  ?? KEEPING UP Mhairi (left) and Alison aren’t fazed by the changes
KEEPING UP Mhairi (left) and Alison aren’t fazed by the changes

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