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'Waiting' energy sector urged to prepare now for Brexit

Firms in Scotland’s energy sector have been urged to stop waiting and “prepare now” for the potential impact of Brexit.

Economic development body Scottish Enterprise said many firms “appear to be waiting until they know more” about leaving the EU, but added it “can’t stress enough” how important it is to begin preparations.

As of August 16, a total of 76 small and medium-sized firms have been approved for the Scottish Government’s Brexit support grant – funding of up to £4,000 to help companies plan ahead.

However it is expected that many more are waiting for more clarity before applying.

Linda Murray, director of strategy at Scottish Enterprise, said the country’s energy sector is a “key component” of its economic performance, with Brexit “undoubtedly” having an impact on how the industry deals with international markets and supply chains.

She added: “I really can’t stress enough how important it is for businesses to prepare now.

“We’ve identified that many businesses appear to be waiting until they know more before taking any action and that it can seem daunting or costly, but there are many actions that can be taken right away that are low-risk and low-cost.”

One of the firms to take up the grant is Aberdeen-based Katoni Engineering.

The funding is being used to train staff on the risks of Brexit, travel to meet clients to discuss the process and maintain relationships, and take consultancy and legal advice on changes which could affect the business.

Katoni only trades goods from within the EU, leaving it potentially exposed to changes around customs arrangements.

General manager James Bream said taking up the grant was the “obvious thing to do” in order to prepare as thoroughly as possible.

He added: “You can plan for what a lot might deem as a worst case scenario in terms of the processes you need to develop.

“The plan is to visit some clients, that’s more important for maintaining relationships. We’re also investing in some consultancy advice with a local north-east company as well.

“That advice will help us make sure that we can at least ask the right questions. So that we’re aware of the customs and financial risks.

“It’s gotten beyond the point now that you should be concerned about how you appear politically. It is just sensible planning.”

James Bream is General Manager at Katoni Engineering.

The company, mainly focussed on North Sea maintenance activities, is also considering opening a base in Holland in order to maintain relationships with a key clients once the UK leaves the European Union on October 31.

It comes as the Netherlands Foreign Investment Agency announced yesterday that nearly 100 UK companies have set up shop in the country as a result of the Brexit process, with another 325 interested in doing so.

More information on the support grant can be found at PrepareforBrexit.scot which brings together advice and information from several public bodies.

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