No-deal Brexit must be taken off the table, says Norbrook boss
Firms in North spending millions on preparations without knowing what future holds
Norbrook CEO Liam Nagle: ‘A no-deal Brexit . . . would be disproportionately felt in Northern Ireland’
A no-deal Brexit must be taken off the table, the chief executive of one of the North’s leading exporters, has said.
Liam Nagle, head of Newry-based pharmaceutical company Norbrook, said businesses in the North were spending millions of pounds on Brexit planning while not knowing what the future may hold.
Mr Nagle said his company alone has spent £3 million (€3.41 million) on transferring more than 2,000 product licences from the UK to the EU.
Norbrook has also invested heavily in raw materials to prevent any supply chain issues after the UK’s scheduled departure from the bloc on March 29th and has made sure the company has sufficient stocks of prepared products available within the EU customs union to meet customer demand.
He said that despite the company’s contingency plans, Norbrook like many businesses across Northern Ireland was continuing to “plan for an unknown Brexit” scenario.
“There is just 50 days to go and we need a no-deal Brexit to be taken off the table and businesses also need to be given the transition time that we were promised.
“As an export company, with 85 per cent of our revenue generated outside the UK, any barriers to trade, tariff and non-tariff, will impact on our competitiveness. We have an integrated supply chain, with a global supply base, which relies on frictionless trade and we urge all those directly involved to work together to avoid a no-deal Brexit, the impact of which I believe would be disproportionately felt in Northern Ireland,” Mr Nagle warned.
The company employs 2,000 people and according to Mr Nagle “hundreds of people cross the Border every day” to come to work in Norbrook. He said Norbrook has not considered setting up a separate operation in the Republic.
Norbrook Holdings on Thursday reported a modest 1 per cent increase in revenue to £275 million (€313 million) for the 12-month period to August, 2018.
The company said operating profits had dipped slightly to £45.1 million because of capital investment expenditure which totalled £13.9 million in its last financial period.
Norbrook had a particularly strong performance in the US which grew year on year by 15 per cent, thanks largely to the launch of three new products. Overall the business also enjoyed a boost from its companion animal category, where sales grew by 12 per cent. Mr Nagle said the business has a “strong pipeline” and he expects to see “continued growth”. But he said that the “uncertainty of the Brexit outcome” would continue to pose a challenge.