April Bembridge – Chief People Officer, Cooper Parry

What is a B Corp? And how can you become one? Listen in as April shares our journey towards B Corp certification.


In August 2020, Gymshark flexed its rippling, youthful pecs and bench-pressed $1.45bn.

The Herculean achievement puts the Birmingham (UK) gymwear company, founded in 2012 by two 19-year-olds into an ultra-elite category. There are currently just 18 ‘unicorn’ start-ups – young companies valued at over £1bn – in Britain (source: www.beauhurst.com) including Gymshark, BrewDog and Deliveroo.

It takes something quite outstanding to grow so massive, so fast. But what exactly is it? Is it possible to identify the critical reasons for such mind-blowing expansion? In this article, Gymshark’s Executive Chairman Paul Richardson does just that.

Paul, 61, is a serial entrepreneur with a magnificently varied background. His first success came in the West Midlands’ waste-disposal trade but then, in 2000, proving that entrepreneurial skills indeed are transferrable, he co-bought fashion brand AllSaints out of administration and turned it into a winner.

Next, Paul joined the board of Birmingham City Football Club – a dream come true for this proud, true-blue Brummie. There, he absorbed entrepreneurial wisdom from the likes of chairman David Sullivan and MD Karen Brady, before returning to the recycling industry for eight years as MD of Knowaste, the world’s first nappy-recycling company. “I’m one of the world’s leading authorities on nappy recycling,” he laughs.

In 2013, thanks to a chance meeting in a Bromsgrove gym, Paul began chatting to Gymshark founders Ben Francis and Lewis Morgan. Before long, the youngsters were, between deadlifts, tapping eagerly into Paul’s business knowledge. A few months later, Paul accepted the role of Gymshark Director, then Chief Strategic Officer and since then he has overseen and guided the growth of one of Britain’s biggest business success stories and is currently Executive Chairman.

Paul says: “My mantra has always been to work really, really hard. The way I look at it, if I work seven days a week and my competitors work five, I’m two days ahead of them. And that’s 100 days over the course of a year. I’ve always wanted to be the best – first in Birmingham, then in the West Midlands, then in the Midlands, then in the UK and then beyond. I just love the challenge. Gymshark is a one-off – super special – the likes of which we’re not likely to see again for many, many years.”

On that note, let’s find out how Gymshark has achieved such wild success.

1) “We’re all equal at Gymshark HQ, and the best idea wins.”

Equality, transparency and zero hierarchy are significant reasons for Gymshark’s hypergrowth, suggests Paul.

“Ben, the founder, has the desire to be accessible to everyone rather than be a distant founder figure. He makes himself available at all times and what you see is what you get. His approach ties in with the company’s desire for equality and transparency. And that results in one of our mantras: the best idea wins. Some of our best projects and brand concepts come from executives; not directors.

“Which goes to show that we’re all equal at GSHQ. We don’t have special parking spaces for directors. We have two car parks and if one’s full and the CEO or Chairman can’t find a space, they have to drive to the next one like anyone else. There’s no top table or any of that rubbish. It was the same when we were a team of 20, 50 and 100. And now we’re 500-plus, it’s still the same.”

2) “We always put the brand first.”

Gymshark is fast becoming an instantly recognisable global sportswear brand. It has nearly nine million Instagram followers, which puts it in the same ballpark as household names such as Under Armour, Reebok and even Nike. Incredibly, it’s reached that point in eight years. How has that been possible?

“This business is built on a brand-first philosophy. If you look after the brand, the customers will come. So, it’s always been about building and protecting the brand and not doing things for the wrong reasons. For example, our turnover is £260m. But we would probably be in the £600-700m bracket if we were to sell Gymshark products wholesale to the likes of JD Sports or Dicks Sporting Goods in the US. But we don’t do that because if we did, we would soon start to lose control of the brand.”

3) “We want to get to know our customers better than anyone else in the world.”

There’s thinking you know your customer. Then there’s really knowing your customer. Gymshark is built on the latter. However, markets evolve and what’s hot and what’s not changes fast. Therefore, Gymshark invests enormous amounts of time and money in building a detailed picture of its target customer, closely tracking every move, whim and desire.

“We have a data team of around 40,” says Paul. “We want to understand everything about our customer – we aim to know what they want even before they do. So data is vital to our business. For example, we combine purchasing data with Instagram views and app-usage info. Then we gel all that together to build a picture. It might tell us that our target customer likes black tracksuit bottoms, black vests with large branding, loves doing deadlifts on Thursdays and Fridays and likes to work on the chest muscles on Mondays. That information allows us to advertise deadlifting kit – chalk, straps, lifting shoes – at the right time. Another Gymshark mantra is, know your customer better than anyone else in the world. If we achieve that, it allows us to treat them how they want to be treated.”

4) “Our team blends youth and experience and each group respects and learns from the other.”

The perfect blend of youth and experience is a sports commentator’s cliché. Nevertheless, the mix of sprightly enthusiasm with timeworn wisdom is a big part of the Gymshark story. However, there’s another factor at play: mutual respect. The young members of the team learn from the older members. But perhaps more importantly, the experienced leaders understand the need to learn from the youngsters. So it’s a two-way street.

Paul: “One big reason for the success of Gymshark is its blend of youthful energy and enthusiasm with experience and expertise. But the only way that works is by having trust and respect going back and forth. For example, I can’t just come into this business and call the shots. I’ve learned so much from the younger people at Gymshark – from the junior execs all the way up. You learn something new all the time. If you give people the respect they deserve, they’ll give you the respect you deserve. And if you get that going as a two-way street, it’s gold dust.”

5) “We understand the importance of mental and physical wellbeing.”

Gymshark’s campus in Solihull is also home to one of the best gyms you’re ever likely to see. The 20,000sq-ft Gymshark Lifting Club includes 13 Olympic-grade weight-lifting platforms and much more. It’s a central part of the brand’s 200,000 sq ft campus that is being developed, including the original £4m HQ, and proves how much emphasis the company places on fitness and wellbeing. So, no surprises that Paul sees physical fitness as the final big reason for Gymshark’s incredible rise.

He says: “Weight or fitness training creates the perfect mindset for business because it requires focus, stamina, self-motivation and resilience. If I’m trying to lift a certain weight and I fail, am I going to give up? No, absolutely not. I’ll try again – it might be tomorrow or next week, but I will try again. Our philosophy is you can get knocked down ten times but that doesn’t matter as long as you get back up for the 11th. In life you come across all sorts of things that knock you down. As long as you keep getting up, then you’ll be OK. It’s the same in business. You can have failures. Just make sure you get back up again. As a company, we truly believe that.”

Hitting the showers and wrapping things up

Gymshark has smashed its way to the top of the British start-up Premier League. Now it’s competing on the global stage with some of the biggest brands on Earth. To achieve that and its $1bn plus valuation in just eight years is incredible, especially when you consider the founders were screen-printing T-shirts in a cobwebby home garage as recently as 2012!

Paul Richardson’s reasons for this growth make fascinating reading. First, he identifies decisiveness, stemming from Ben Francis’s “laser vision” Second comes equality – so the best idea, rather than the most politically expedient one, carries the most weight. Third on the list is a brand-first philosophy, which sees Gymshark doing what’s best for its name and reputation in the long-term, even if it means a short-term reduction in potential profits. Fourth is customer knowledge – but not your common or garden variety. With a data team of 40, this is consumer insight with bells and whistles on. Penultimately, Paul describes the interplay between youth and experience and, vitally, the oldies’ willingness to learn from the kids – and vice versa. And finally we hear about the company’s in-built passion for fitness and wellbeing, thereby building resilience, mindfulness and balance.

These insights reveal so much about how a British unicorn was built. Applying them to your situation won’t create a £1bn business overnight. But it may get you a little closer to your dream destination.


Throughout childhood, Ayaz Tejani, 34, watched his father excel in business. The son looked up to his father as a business role model. Amin Tejani – an Asian Ugandan immigrant who came to Leicester in the 1970s – set up a series of businesses with successful exits. The most recent being Leicester Paper Company (LPC) Group PLC in 2010, a European tissue manufacturer operating in 4 different countries, with a turnover of £300m and EBITDA £40m.


In Ayaz’s case, pretty damn well. Taking the easy way out and managing the Tejani Family Assets straight from school? Don’t think so. Ayaz was keen to get educated and secure a position in an organisation where he would learn skills that would not only benefit him but the wider family.

“To earn respect from the outside world, I would urge the next generation of successful families to explore careers, so if they decide to start any business or work with the family they can add value.” Ayaz graduated from the University of Nottingham, where he attained a 2:1 BSc in Mathematics and Economics, and then joined a Big 4 accountancy firm. He successfully qualified as a chartered accountant. However, post-qualification he was still unfulfilled and had a burning desire to set up his own business.


Ayaz identified a gap in the £2bn tissue market. There was consolidation in the private label market, so the retail high street had very few suppliers to choose from. As start up failure rate is extremely high, it made sense to pursue an industry where the family had experience, so he decided to enter the tissue market again. So, in 2014, Leicester Tissue Company (LTC), a manufacturer of toilet tissue and kitchen towel was born. The mindset was to be prepared for an exciting but challenging journey. “We knew that the competition would defend their position, and it would take time to build new, strong relationships with customers. The market had changed since the disposal of LPC. We needed the best start possible.”

Ayaz secured £1m grant funding from the Leicester and Leicestershire Partnership (LLEP) with the view of creating 80 jobs, and negotiated a substantial rent-free period from the landlord. Not a bad start, one would say.


Despite a tough couple of years of trading, Ayaz began to find his feet amid the cut and thrust of a raw entrepreneurial environment. “There was no time to hold our heads in despair when times got tough. It was sink or swim. The real world is cruel, and it is best to embrace it. When backs are up against the wall, true entrepreneurs find solutions.”

Having never worked in an MD role, Ayaz developed extremely quickly and delivered a turnover of £44m and EBITDA of £7m within six years of trading. To date, 80 jobs have been created, and the total investment has been £25m, £3m of which has been family equity. The growth of the business was supported by Charles Street Buildings, LLEP and other banking institutions.


In 2014, Ayaz, in the shadow of the elder generation’s success and against the backdrop of an unsatisfied career, had it all to do. But fast forward to November 2020, Ayaz oversaw the sale of his six-year-old company to a competitor, Accrol Group Holdings, in a deal worth up to £42 million – a dream exit. Which begs the question: how did he get from such a vulnerable position to one of strength?


What follows is a masterclass in retail strategy and a lesson in how to transform a perceived commodity into a successful retail brand. Ayaz shares his learnings: “The first ingredient is innovation. Buyers are busy, so if you’re competing on price, that’s a horrible place to be and most likely they will go back to the incumbent supplier. So, you have to innovate and create a culture of innovation.”


“We looked at our assets and considered how they could make us stand out. We created a luxurious four-ply quilted toilet roll, ‘Quantum Quilts’, with added scented variants such as aloe vera and coconut. We also came up with a four-ply kitchen towel, ‘Magnum Force’. The market at that time was only selling three-ply products.”


“Our Quantum Quilts brand and our seasonal kitchen rolls provided a significant uplift of profitable sales for our main customer. We now had the buyer’s full attention. When that happens, you can start to lead the way by acting as a trusted advisor. ‘You should alter your product range in this way.’ ‘Have you considered trialling this new product?’ Suddenly it’s not about price; it’s about offering a service. You are no longer supplying a commodity; you’re selling a serviced retail brand.”


Ayaz concludes the lesson: “Naturally, your service level must remain incredibly high, and innovation is key, so there is a strategic relationship, not a transactional one. Once the trust has been developed, long-term relations can be maintained and turnover can be safeguarded, which can then be used to fund investment programmes for the future.


The obvious choice would have been to continue to grow the business with its five year £130m investment programme and create an extra 150 jobs benefiting the economy, which is now in the hands of the new owners.

While that happens, Ayaz is looking to share his experiences and invest in entrepreneurs from the family’s earnings, as well as seeking funding from private investors. There will also be an element of philanthropic work, a long-held ambition for Ayaz that was given further impetus after the passing of his late mother, Rumina Tejani, in 2014.

Innovate to stay relevant. A simple, four-word notion, but one that’s come to mean more than ever for technology and high growth businesses in recent times.

That’s why CP Futures has teamed up with Bailey Fisher – a tech-focused, London and Cambridge-based, leading independent executive search firm – to talk to CFOs and CEOs across the sector.

So, how have tech businesses been adapting, pivoting and innovating their way through the crisis? And how have CFOs and CEOs been dealing with funding and strategy?

You’ll find all their answers and advice in this joint report – a reflection of our shared commitment to supporting high growth tech businesses, and an invaluable source of information for C-suite tech leaders seeking long-term success.


And if you’ve got any questions, get in touch with our Head of Tech & High Growth, Steve Leith, at stevel@cooperparry.com

Trading and moving goods from Great Britain (“GB”) into Northern Ireland (“NI”)

Practical points:

You must also have:

To do the application you’ll need:

To apply go to:


Fill in the form save to your computer and email to uktraderscheme@hmrc.gov.uk with any supporting documentation. Type your EORI number in the subject of the email. You need to include proof of permanent business establishment or document of establishment. Whilst not mandatory, you can also provide evidence of your record keeping.

You’ll receive a notification confirming receipt. You’ll then be provisionally authorised (unless you are separately notified by us that you are not eligible due to your compliance history). Once fully authorised you will get a further notification and you will receive a letter with your UK Trader Scheme authorisation number.


Additional Guidance for Processing Goods:

If you move goods for processing in NI you’ll also need to either:

  1. Provide your turnover for the most recent financial year stating that this is below £500,000; or
  2. Declare that you intend to bring goods for processing into NI for one or more of the following sole purposes:
    • Food for sale to end consumers in the UK
    • Construction, where they used to form part of a permanent structure that is constructed and located in NI
    • Direct provision of health or care services by the importer in NI
    • Not For Profit activities in NI where there is no subsequent sale fo the good by the importer
    • Final use of animal feed on premises located in NI by the importer


Additional Guidance for Records, Systems and Controls:

You’ll need to give details of the records, systems and controls you have in place to allow you to accurately declare goods are not “at risk”. They must be specific and appropriate to your business and show:

For small or medium sized businesses, you do not need complex systems but they should be appropriate to your size, nature and complexity. 2 examples are given:

At authorisation you should give:

Get in touch with Damian Shirley, our Indirect Tax Partner and lead on all things Brexit, at damians@cooperparry.com

Wow. What a year it’s been! But don’t panic, the end is in sight… 

Whether you voted remain or leave (do you even remember voting?), no one can deny we’re facing unprecedented uncertainty over the next few months as we move beyond the end of the Brexit transition period into 2021. And of course, the coronavirus pandemic has further frustrated UK businesses’ preparations for the end of the transition period – now just couple of weeks away.

Newly published guidance has just been released (better late than never!) that says businesses bringing goods into Northern Ireland which are not ‘at risk’ of moving to the EU (or subject to commercial processingcan apply for authorisation under the UK Trader Scheme. If all the conditions are satisfied, businesses could pay zero duty on the movement of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The Trader Support Service can assist with determining eligibility for the scheme, and if you want to be part of the scheme, UK Trader Scheme Authorisation must be applied for by the 31st December 2020 – so move fast! 

Book an appointment in January

Incoterms website

What does this mean for you?

It’s now a business-critical priority to consider the impact of trading within the EU under what will be entirely new rules.

With the above in mind, is Brexit a burden to scrape through, or an opportunity to re-set your international strategy into the future; a chance to challenge where you trade, how you trade, your routes to market, and even what you trade?

Because how often do you stop to work out why you really do things the way you do?

The Golden Questions

At this late stage, we absolutely urge you to ask yourself the following:

  1. Do you know your incoterms? 
  2. Do you know your VAT and Duty rates in the UK and EU? 
  3. Do you have an obligation to VAT register in the EU?
  4. Do you need an EU/NI/GB prefixed EORI number?
  5. Do you need to appoint a Customs or Fiscal representative? 
  6. How will you pay import VAT and duty? 

If you can’t answer a confident “yes” to any of the above, then it’s time to think. Fast.

How can we help?

We’re currently supporting a growing number of clients, spanning B2B and B2c, trading in either goods or digital services. Brexit impacts all.

We map out and review our clients’ overall supply chain structure to determine the like-for-like position, pre and post the Brexit transition period. It really doesn’t need to be described in a more complicated way than that, so, let’s keep it simple.

The output helps clients to understand the following key factors:

1) The moving forward Customs Duty cost, and who in the chain that obligation sits with under a clients’ current terms of trade.

2) VAT registration requirements when continuing to trade in the EU moving forward, and any mitigation strategies to streamline those obligations.

3) The moving forward import VAT obligations and goods clearance obligations at the UK and EU borders.

4) Any establishment requirements on the continent to allow you to continue to trade.

5) Optimisation strategies to reduce the additional administrative burden and underlying cost of trade into 2021.

6) Understanding and meeting any new compliance obligations.

Our team includes specialists in export and trade controls based in Brussels, in the heart of the EU. We can cater for whatever Brexit might throw at you and the regulatory trade minefield that comes with it. We’re also working closely with legal experts in commercial law who focus on regulatory matters such as labelling and safety.

Whatever your position, we can work with you to maintain business continuity, which is all-important right now.

We suggest that you get the essentials in place now (see our Brexit Bible below) and then regroup with us in the New Year for a more holistic review of your position. 

The VAT Brexit Bible

We’ll help you to cut through all the messy stuff so you can focus on what you do best. But for those closer to the detail, we’ve identified a few lessons from our dealings at this stage. Good lessons. Maybe some will resonate and help you. Click here to read the Brexit Bible.

Free trade deal

It may still be possible that we get a deal with the EU but this might go down to the wire. Keep an eye on the news and will help you navigate any changes in the New Year. 

Let’s play to our corporate values, we’re in this with you, we’ll navigate it together and we’ll resolve it together. We’re in this together! 

Get in touch with Damian Shirley, our Indirect Tax Partner and lead on all things Brexit, at damians@cooperparry.com

2020 has been a rollercoaster year for our Not for Profit clients. The schools and academies we work with have been supporting the nation’s key workers and vulnerable children. And lockdown pulled the plug on our charity clients’ key sources of income, virtually overnight.

The same requirements for high standards of finance and governance remained though, which is why we’re proud to share everything our Not for Profit team has achieved through a period we’ll never forget.


Nothing tells a story quite like client feedback, and every year, the Charity Auditor Awards ranks all Not for Profit firms on overall service and expertise, based on their clients’ experience with them.

In early December, the 2020 results came in, and we’re over the moon to say we’re ranked #2 in the UK. Of course, a huge thank you goes out to our clients for their feedback, coupled with huge congratulations to the NFP team for this incredible achievement.

The team were also shortlisted for the Accounting Excellence Awards’ “COVID-19 Hero” prize, thanks to the easy-to-digest, impactful support they provided to clients over the course of the pandemic.

That included: daily COVID-related updates and articles for academies and charities; free of charge, client-specific interpretations of new guidance; free webinars on financial management and governance for our clients and the ISBL and ASCL communities, with an average feedback score of 9.2/10; and the completion of approaching 100 audits and over 20 internal assurance reviews for Not for Profits in the period between March and December.


By welcoming 10 fresh faces this year, the team has grown to 23. One of those faces was none other than Nick Simkins, our Head of Not for Profit, and with his arrival came a new leadership team and new, refined development plans for everyone.

It all seems to be working, too, because in the last six months the team has won a whopping 50 new clients, including 35 academies for external audits, internal audits and project work, and 12 more charities for external audits.

They’ve enjoyed a 70% win rate on tenders, too, and with a palpable buzz and energy to everything the team does, their 2020 achievements bode very, very well for 2021.

Nick Simkins, our Head of Not for Profit, said:

“Cooper Parry have certainly disrupted the Not for Profit world in 2020. Our fantastic team have given our clients first-class service during a difficult year, shown by our ranking in the Charity Auditor Awards.

We’ve welcomed loads of new clients to Cooper Parry who appreciate the way we roll. And now, it’s time for everyone to switch off for a well-deserved Christmas break and spend some time with our loved ones.

Merry Christmas to everyone and here’s to a brighter, more normal 2021.”

With Christmas just around the corner, what’s on your mind? Spending time with loved ones, New Year diets, or (curveball), how you can make the most of the current Capital Gains Tax (CGT) rates before they’re increased?

As mentioned in our previous article, the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has made several recommendations which, in general, aren’t good news for the taxpayer.

Much talked about is an increase to the CGT rates which could see them looking more like income tax rates in the future. Currently, if you own assets such as stocks and shares in quoted companies, any gain (if it exceeds your annual exemption) is often taxed at 20%. But now, this could double to 40%.

Also, the OTS has recommended removing the CGT uplift on death where there is an exemption for inheritance tax. At the moment, if you were to leave your assets to your spouse on death there is no inheritance tax due as there is a spouse exemption. Your spouse will benefit from an uplift of the base cost of the asset to market value for CGT, so the historic gain and tax liability just disappears.


Imagine this. 30 years ago, Mr. Claus acquired some quoted shares for £1,000. They are now worth £100,000, so the tax, if he were to sell them, could be almost £20,000. If, however, he leaves them to Mrs. Claus in his will and then dies, the base cost becomes £100,000, and when Mrs. Claus sells the shares a week later after she has inherited them, there is no gain, and therefore, no tax.

The OTS recommendation is to remove this uplift so Mrs. Claus inherits the base cost of £1,000, so if she sells them the £20,000 may still be due.


Here are our suggestions:

Consider selling assets to “bank” the current rates – you may then be able to buy the assets back either after 30 days, in your spouse’s name, or in another investment such as an ISA or pension.

Gift or sell assets to family or via a trust or company to trigger the gain.

Gift or sell assets to a trust or company, but where you can still benefit.

While it’s unlikely we’ll see Rishi Sunak in his Santa costume this year, he may have given us a bit of time before he introduces some of these recommendations, which could start to come through in the Spring Budget next year.

If you’d like to discuss any of the options above, please give me a call on 07786126268, or send me an email at saraha@cooperparry.com

Have a great Christmas.

Sarah Axe | Private Client Partner

As the curtain falls on 2020, it’s been a year to remember – not least for the Cooper Parry Corporate Finance team.

Despite the pandemic and all its uncertainty, the team worked with some fantastic businesses and entrepreneurs to complete four transactions since lockdown began, including three in one month, and two in the space of a week.

Half of those deals came in Health & Social Care – a longstanding, key focus area for the team and a sector that has proved its resilience and cemented its attraction to investors over the last twelve months.


First up, they advised PE house WestBridge on its £9.6m investment to support the MBO of Bespoke Health & Social Care – a specialist nurse-led service provider supporting individuals with complex needs within their own homes and communities. Then, they advised the shareholders of Bryn Melyn Care on the sale to Outcomes First Group, creating the third largest provider of residential care by capacity in England.

The team’s flurry of deals then continued with the completion of two more transactions in the same week.

They advised the shareholders of Ross Trustees, a professional pensions scheme trustee services provider, as it secured investment from leading mid-market private equity investor, LDC. And finally, they advised the shareholders of well-invested, fast growing toilet and kitchen roll supplier, Leicester Tissue Company Ltd, on the sale to Acrol Holdings Plc.

There was more exciting deal news for the wider Cooper Parry business this year, too, with the arrival of CP Futures’ new Raising Finance team. Led by Sarah Abrahams, the team is delivering funding advice for seed and Series A rounds, strengthening CP’s expertise in advising ambitious, entrepreneurial businesses in the tech sector throughout their growth journey.


Connecting with businesses in the team’s target sectors and sharing their knowledge on investment opportunities and market trends remains a top priority.

At the end of July, the team hosted their first ‘Gin & Topics’ virtual healthcare roundtable, bringing together leaders from Health & Social Care businesses to discuss the hottest topics in the sector, paired with a responsibly refreshing assortment of gins.

Jemma Bailey, our new Deal Originator, joined CP in November to continue developing relationships across sectors where the team’s deal credentials and buyer interests lie, and this year, they produced six sector-specific insight reports.

Five of those were in Technology – another key focus sector – covering Data Analytics, Cyber Security, EdTech, the evolution of Healthcare Technology and Tech-enabled Care in the Home. Then, they also published an insight report on another dynamic, growing sector: Waste Management & Recycling.


Culture and connection have never been more important, and as the business shifted effectively to Working From Anywhere, Anytime, Forever, so did Corporate Finance, with team members working together seamlessly across the UK and overseas.

Cycling and running challenges have been the team’s go-to to stay cobweb-free, and Andy Parker, our Partner & Head of Corporate Finance, is taking things one pedal further in 2021 by cycling all 21 stages of the Tour de France for Cure Leukaemia. If you’d like to donate to this fantastic cause, you can do so here.

2020 also brought some hugely exciting personal news for the team in the shape of new houses and a baby. And now, as the first wave of vaccines rolls out across the UK at the time of writing, 2021 is all set to be a year to remember, once more.

The global pandemic has been slap-bang in the middle of everyone’s minds throughout 2020. The automotive industry is no exception, and it was already trying to grapple with the slippery implications of a Brexit deal (or lack of).

During 2019, the automotive sector generated more than £100bn of trade. Almost 70% of vehicles registered in 2019 and an even larger proportion of parts used were imported from the EU. And over 50% of the UK’s assembled cars were exported the other way, into the EU.

The statistics discussed by the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders (SMMT) recently are also worrying. The Independent AutoAnalysis Production Outlook Report November 2020 forecast that, if the UK automotive industry has to trade under WTO terms, the tariffs could cost the sector £55bn over 5 years.

In 2019, British car production was 1.3m. Under WTO terms, that figure is expected to be consistently below 1m a year.

The potential effects of the Brexit deal are huge.

And they’re not limited to supply chain and costs either, because the uncertainty is having a knock-on effect on consumer confidence.

What’s more, automotive businesses are also dealing with the future ban on vehicles powered entirely by petrol and diesel, which was brought forward recently to 2030.

Consumers are attracted to greener vehicles for their lower running costs, as well as the environmental impact; but amongst their concerns are the initial spend on the vehicle being higher, a lack of local charging points, and a fear of being caught short on longer journeys.

When one of the key points raised by consumers about a move from petrol/diesel is the higher upfront cost of the vehicle, the prospect of a no-deal Brexit increasing that cost by 10% is an issue.

The technology and innovation for which the industry is renowned will continue to create improvements and will reduce some of the consumer concerns around a move from petrol and diesel, as longer journey ranges become possible. But the networking of charging points will still need huge investment, and whilst the amounts discussed in the recent Spending Review are welcome, it’s unlikely this will be enough.

Less than 2% of cars registered in Britain in 2019 were battery powered.

There has been a marked increase in sales this year, however, and electric cars, inevitably given the industry’s history of innovation, get better all the time. But, they’re still expensive to make and they rely heavily on incentives to sell.


When it comes to Brexit readiness, there are lots of factors to think about. Consideration of the supply chain and changes in timing from order to delivery will be important. There are likely to be delays at UK ports; businesses should consider the possible impact of this on manufacturing and assembly operations in terms of downtime should goods be substantially delayed.

If inventory levels have been, or are, increased to mitigate the risk of delays at ports, there could be strain on working capital, which may be further impacted by changing tariffs. The knock-on consequences of this with regard to payment terms for both customers and suppliers will also need careful thought.

The industry is experiencing change at a rapid rate. The terms of the Brexit deal are urgently needed so that businesses in the sector can plan and re-work short term strategies. And now, I suppose, we wait.

If you’re an automotive business wondering how we can support you at Cooper Parry, I’d love to chat. You can email me at elisah@cooperparry.com, or drop me a message on LinkedIn, if that’s your thing.

Elisa Howe | Audit Director