Financial Director Kevin Martin Talks Tratos Europe Compliance


Tratos Finance Director Kevin Martin is part of the senior team responsible for successfully steering one of the UK’s most innovative independent manufacturers through the measures needed to keep it serving global markets smoothly beyond Brexit’s December 31st 2020 transition deadline.

Mr Martin led the 100% compliance push to ensure the British cable-maker and Northern Powerhouse stakeholder could guarantee no business disruption as the deadline approached.  

While the EU is the UK’s single biggest export market, accounting for 46% (or roughly £289 billion) of its exports, Tratos supplies some of the biggest infrastructure projects worldwide.  However, it was clear that, for international clients, one of the biggest advantages of working with Tratos would be uninterrupted product supplies.

UK businesses will see the landscape for EU exports change immediately post Brexit negotiations cut-off point with tariffs on many UK exports. The cable maker’s Brexit strategy was focused on ticking all the right boxes for importing materials into the UK and for exporting to the EU.

Mr Martin said: “There isn’t a business that hasn’t had to respond to changes and challenges in 2020.  Britain has had more than its fair share of economic tremors to contend with as it navigated an exceptional year, but two things stood out for me; the first was the support from our financial partners HSBC.  Our bank has a good understanding of the business and was very helpful as we planned our way through surviving and succeeding in a time of Covid 19 – and ensuring we were Brexit-ready before the end of the year.  The second was colleagues’ response to the measures we imposed for their safety and for business continuity – it is an indictment of their commitment to the business and the strength of the Tratos culture.   It was the first priority for us to keep our people safe, and we kept communicating, benefitting from incredible support from our clients in the transport, telecoms,  ports and power sectors in particular – and our long-standing suppliers.

“Tratos UK continued to trade throughout the first wave of Covid-19 restrictions as an essential manufacturer providing components to critical infrastructure businesses such as transport, power and telecommunications.  We achieved it by going for the most stringent Covid measures available to us from day one.  The factory, office, canteen and warehousing facilities all had well demarked social distancing measures in place including people working from single offices and with Perspex screens.  Cleaning was increased and canteen visits scheduled. 

“The economy has been shaken, Covid hasn’t finished with us yet and Brexit has not quite declared its colours yet.  I can see that the first quarter of 2021 will continue to be challenging but believe we will see some recovery as we move into spring.”

Boris Johnson said as negotiations continued that the outlines of a deal had been drawn up and that a deal was there to be done, but still would not rule out Britain’s departure from the EU bloc without one.  If there is no agreement as negotiations close, UK-EU trade will default to the World Trade Organization (WTO) rules.  That default setting brings with it tariffs on many imports and exports, which could push up costs for firms and consumers. If Britain’s exit lacks a deal, the combination of tariffs, customs procedures, and regulatory change will be onerous. 

Like any forward-looking business Tratos looked to put plans in place for a smooth transition into 2021, although, says Mr Martin, the shape of those plans will likely be tailored by and for each individual business.  The best businesses, he says, will leave rooms within the planning to accommodate shifts in strategy to process and respond to potentially unanticipated Brexit fall-out.

Understanding your own businesses reliance on European imports and exports has never been more important, he added, and board directors who were quick to prepare and grasp the impacts of change would lead the companies that would be fastest to recover and prosper. 

“Not everything can be fully planned for where you’re entering a place of wholesale change,” said Mr Martin.  “A change in one procedure or process somewhere down the line, whether at customs or within your own supply chain, has the potential to offer gains or losses depending on how those changes’ ripples go.  So it is important to stay alert and remain agile so that incoming change is spotted early and managed effectively.” 

The other key focuses for Tratos remain its dedication to innovation and sustainability – both of which are likely to be needed as never before. 

For the UK Tratos secured:

  • UK VAT Reg
  • Full Declarations vs Delayed Declarations
  • DDA
  • Guarantee
  • PIVA
  • Incoterms
  • Regulatory
  • Instrastat

For exporting to the EU Tratos secured:

  • EU VAT Reg
  • Direct v Indirect Representation
  • DDA
  • Guarantee
  • Import VAT
  • Fiscal Representation
  • Regulatory
  • VAT Reporting

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