“Targeted alignment is a fantasy”

How will Brexit affect UK fire exports? The sector responds

Security market analyst

Author Bio ▼

Hunter Seymour is a security market analyst with expertise in both the fire and security markets.
March 26, 2019


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“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in Alice Through the Looking-Glass, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

This is an enigmatic assertion that encapsulates our vexed understanding of Brexit.

So to avoid any ambiguity of interpretation, we invited members of the FIA (Fire Industry Association) to offer their own ‘positioning statement’ summarising their corporate response to the Brexit malaise and what it might mean for exports to the EU when (or if) we do eventually leave the trading bloc.

This article is the second in a two-part series investigating the impact on the fire sector of our (probable) departure from the EU and what the industry is doing to adapt to the new status quo and protect its export trade. Part one explored the hazards on the roadmap ahead.

AMA Research has at least painted a not altogether negative view of the post-Brexit landscape for the UK’s active fire protection and passive fire protection sectors, where steady yet subdued growth is predicted.

The UK market for passive fire protection products is estimated to be worth around £650m at MSP (manufacturers’ selling prices), with moderate forecasts of 2% growth until 2020 and beyond.

The active fire protection segment is also forecast to hit 2% with a market value not much greater than its passive counterpart – both sectors totalling £1.5 billion at MSP, according to estimates that exclude the value of the industry’s other major support activities, including installation contracting services and system rental income.

From contingency planning and supply chain logistics to expanding our reach into non-EU markets, here – at a historic threshold with the end game still in the balance – is a selection of views from fire protection manufacturers.

Apollo Fire Detectors Ltd: We’re confident that product will still be safe, compliant and available to the EU marketplace

As a leading manufacturer of fire detection and alarm products, Apollo Fire Detectors Limited has invested significant and appropriate resource in post-Brexit preparations. Whilst that affords us no greater insight into what the final outcome will be, we are preparing for a ‘no-deal’ scenario and addressing what that might mean for us as a manufacturer, and for both our EU and UK customer base.

With a wide portfolio of products designed, tested and certified to standards from across the world, Apollo has significant internal expertise to draw on whilst we navigate what is an uncertain and challenging time for all actors in the supply chain.

Working with our certification partners, we are confident that product supplied today will still be safe, compliant and available to the EU marketplace post-Brexit. Apollo are working to a plan whose aims are that the supply of such product will be uninterrupted and seamless in the event of a no-deal outcome.

Apollo Fire Detectors are exhibiting at FIREX International 2019 (18-20 June) on stand FX510. REGISTER NOW.

Vimpex: Our sector’s enviable world standing is being diminished daily

[comments from James Jones, managing director]

There is nothing good about Brexit for the UK Fire Sector or the wider economy. The cost of doing business in far flung places, we are told, with whom the government seeks to seal trade agreements is high and standards and approvals differ.

The fantasy of targeted alignment of British Standards with UL equivalents is being peddled by the hardest of hard Brexiters in our industry. Our sector’s previously enviable standing in the world is now being diminished day by day.

Vimpex is exhibiting at FIREX International 2019 (18-20 June) on stand FX940. REGISTER NOW.

Protec Fire Detection Plc: We are not reliant on just-in-time supply systems

Protec Fire Detection PLC envisages no significant changes to its ability to meet clients’ needs with regard to conformity of the products it produces and supplies in accordance with EU regulations.

Products supplied by Protec Fire Detection Plc within the UK and exported to the EU are currently fully CE marked in accordance with the prevailing EU regulations and there are no plans for this to be discontinued following the UK Government’s negotiated withdrawal from the European Union.

However, any legal and regulatory changes that may affect product certification relating to CE marking for the EU market or UKCA mark for the UK market (should this be brought into force in the UK) have already been planned for. Where market conditions require additional product certification (for example Type 5 Scheme certification) or system design features due to any local market needs, i.e. in countries both inside and outside the EU, these features are encompassed into the product certification and manufacturer’s declarations, and the accompanying certification supplied to these particular export markets.

In line with our company policy to meet all our customers’ requirements, Protec Fire Detection Plc maintains and will continue to maintain a presence in the EU. If Parliament enacts new regulations to withdraw from any EU regulations that affect our products both directly or indirectly, we would still envisage no change to our current policy, as we would continue to supply to our EU markets under EU rules.

We do not envisage any significant disruptions to supply of component parts or resale imported goods following border changes. We have multi-stream importing options and retain a relatively high stock of component parts and ‘core’ finished goods. We are not reliant on JIT [just in time] supply systems for our products.

We have very few EU-based-only suppliers and we have made provision for possible delays in transportation and importing restrictions. We do not envisage the need to source alternative suppliers with regard to the draft EU withdrawal as currently proposed by HM government.

Read Protec’s company statement on Brexit.

Protec Fire Detection is exhibiting at FIREX International 2019 (18-20 June) on stand FX1040. REGISTER NOW.

Coltraco Ultrasonics: Brexit not as catastrophic and disastrous as some suggest

[edited extracts from Sky News interview with Carl Hunter, chief executive – see video above]

“I think all business is inherently adaptable and I think that’s a definition for intelligence itself so I think we ought to be a little restrained yet hugely optimistic about any business day. [Brexit] is significant but it’s not as catastrophic and disastrous as some suggest.

“I think this country [by 30th March 2019] will be where it is today in so many ways. We will still be one of the only countries in the world to be an opponent member of the United Nations [and in addition a] Commonwealth G8/G20 leading member of the IMF [participating in] the World Bank and WTO (World Trade Organization).

“These are distinguishing features of a country that is looking out to the world, and this moment in time will pass and we will see a huge bright future for ourselves . . . WTO terms are the same terms as we deal with in China or India or America.

“I think the great news is that, within the DIT (Department for International Trade), the 500 member trade policy group is working exceptionally hard to put in place alternative arrangements. But the principal role of business is to be better, faster or cheaper than the competition.

“It’s my contention, as a high exporting manufacturer, that that’s why you win business.  We have exported to the European Union for 25 years [yet I see] a change in temper, a change in mood . . . [but that will be] over a reasonably short period of time. It’s obviously in everybody’s interest to have an agreement and I warmly support the government’s efforts to do that.

“[As to continuity of supply] I think there is a chance of short-term disruption in trade but I’d be very surprised if an interim solution wasn’t found to carry us through that period.

“But, even if that were so, then the basic issues of tariffs rules or origin or shipping documentation are really what most exporting businesses who export to non-EU countries are familiar with, in any case, and those will apply for a short period perhaps into [dealings with] the EU.

“My principal concern is a lot of people leading the [Brexit] debate are from the 7,000 larger companies in the UK but there are another 4.4 million smaller ones in this economy providing, broadly, 50% of private sector revenue and employment.

“I think it’s upon all of us to give them some encouragement that life will continue the day after [Brexit]. I think, broadly speaking, this country is so well positioned internationally that . . . the difficulty we face within the European Union today will be overcome by the greater amount of common interests that bind us to Europe in the future.”

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