The experience of one SME, but it's happening to hundreds (if not thousands) They're either cutting back so far as to be almost unviable; relocating to the EU or going out of business.
Paul Carnahan @pacarnahan
This week we laid off most of the rest of our staff. TL/DR: It's down to Brexit. Not Covid. Not the war in Ukraine. We've got the figures. We know our business. Brexit did this.
(Carnanhan's prediction from 2 yeas ago:• Feb 13, 2018
For our family business, there's no doubt #Brexit will have an impact - the question is how bad it will be. Meanwhile, the chaos surrounding Brexit leaves us in limbo, unable to continue the expansion which has helped us create jobs and aid other firms. )
We sell fragrance oils to soap makers and cosmetic makers. Once, we sold hundreds of different products from a large warehouse. But while Brexiters insisted there would be no down sides, we watched business dwindle, no matter what steps we took.
We reduced our rented space. Gave up the big warehouse. Shrank our product line. We laid people off. We cut every cost we could, right down to bare bones, but it still wasn't enough. So now we've laid off all but one member of staff.
It's the job of the four members of our family to keep this company going, no matter what, not only so that we can support ourselves, but so that, one day, we can bring back the staff who supported us. That day might never come.
I've spoken about this a lot over the past six years, so I'll keep it brief. We're at the point where things that were once minor inconveniences - parcels returned due to newly-complicated customs arrangements - could be business-ending.
'Stop whining! Just adapt!' say those caring Brexiters. We adapted. We kept adapting. 'Are you ready for Brexit?' asked a government which gave us just 7 days between the revelation of the deal and the date of departure from the EU. We got ready for their Oven Ready Deal.
Then, after they'd made trade with our nearest neighbours permanently more costly and complex, driving away two thirds of our business, we adapted some more. And once we'd done that, they decided the deal wasn't so Oven Ready after all and started agitating for a trade war.
'Business thrives on challenges!', I've been told by people who know nothing about business. No, business thrives on stability, and we and countless other UK small-to-medium enterprises have had precious little of that over the past six years.
So here we are, with a shell of a once-thriving business, lucky for the firm to make in a year what it once would've made in a month. And despite everything we've had to overcome, the people who did this to us don't even have the guts to admit what they've done.
Their foot-soldiers on Twitter refuse point-blank to listen to those of us dealing with the fallout of their terrible choices. They refuse to accept basic matters of fact: Leaving the EU in such a chaotic, unplanned fashion has caused serious hardship.
The smug, sneering wreckers who instigated it all from their tax-haven boltholes fire potshots on Twitter while expenses-rich MPs cram another pile of consultancy fee cash into their wallets and blankly ignore any attempt to discuss the damage they've done.
And that leaves those of us on the front-line to hang on as best we can, after years of sounding the alarm, and watch as the damage mounts, the economy crumbles and real, serious harm creeps ever closer to everyone - even those still pretending none of it is happening.
The damage is coming your way. It's coming for everyone but the very privileged. There's no way to stop it now, especially when the people who caused it won't even admit that it exists and the people they fooled help spread their message.
We knew this was coming, because we knew better than to believe those who promised nothing but sunlit uplands. So we adapted. We did everything, professionally and personally, to get ready.
While we - and countless others like us - are preparing for the worst (and in some cases already enduring the worst) the people we elect and pay to look after us are lying to us.
We can't fix any of this until those in charge of it start telling the truth. And that won't happen as long as people happily swallow the lies and shout down anyone who tries to tell the truth.
The truth is very simple. Brexit has ruined our family business. Not Covid (we saw only a minor dip in 2020, during the deepest lockdowns). Not the war in Ukraine. The biggest collapse came at the end of the extension period in 2021. Two thirds drop, almost overnight.
We'll carry on and give it all we've got, because it matters. It matters that we create jobs, contribute to the local and national economy and support other businesses across the UK and EU. And it matters that the people who did this to us won't win.
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