Brexit ready? ‘Highly surprising’ number of cosmetics companies remain ‘completely unprepared’

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

Industry must get a Brexit contingency plan in place - deal or no deal - because implementing changes can't happen overnight (Getty Images)
Industry must get a Brexit contingency plan in place - deal or no deal - because implementing changes can't happen overnight (Getty Images)

Related tags: Brexit, European union, Regulation, compliance, responsible person

A surprising number of UK cosmetic companies are still completely unprepared for Brexit, deal or no deal, and this needs to change fast, says the operations director of MSL Solution Providers.

MSL Solution Providers, a regulatory compliance and microbiology testing specialist, has partnered with trade group Cosmetics Cluster UK (CCUK) to run a series of free-to-attend business events across the UK for the cosmetics and personal care industry on how to prepare for Brexit. Funded by the UK government’s ‘Business Readiness Fund’, the events take place this week across the UK and finish with an online webinar on October 31.

Surprising number of brands and companies ‘unprepared’ for Brexit

Speaking to CosmeticsDesign-Europe, Alex Fotheringham, operations director at MSL Solution Providers, said preparing for Brexit – deal or no deal – had to be high on the agenda of all cosmetic and personal care companies operating in the UK.

“The number of companies who are completely unprepared is highly surprising,”​ Fotheringham said.

“…All of the very big multinational companies are okay because they’re fortunate enough to have sites across all of Europe; they can react much more quickly to this, but anyone below that, even large brands who only have a headquarter in the UK, are still very unprepared. And some much bigger brands than I would expect have not been prepared, so far. It would surprise people just how many of the brands and household names are unprepared.”

Many of these companies, he said, had been reluctant to sign off on additional costs to implement Brexit plans because they had remained unconvinced leaving the European Union would happen. But Fotheringham said recent events made clear Brexit planning had to be prioritised.

Brexit contingency plans - changes can’t be implemented ‘overnight’

“The message is to make sure you have a contingency plan in place for the worst-case scenario, which is a no deal Brexit, but also that you have a way to implement that plan and reign it back slightly longer-term if there is a deal,” ​Fotheringham said.

Even if Brexit happened with a deal, a transitionary period would only take industry to December 2020 which “still isn’t very long”,​ he said. “Having a contingency plan in place, understanding how your regulatory requirements will change and being prepared for those changes is key.”

Industry had to start seriously planning product labelling, import and exports of raw materials and finished products, and organising requirements for EU-based and UK-based Responsible Persons (RPs).

“These aren’t changes you can implement overnight. Even if you’re looking to a third-party Responsible Person, you don’t want to have to do that quickly. It is important industry reacts as quickly as possible.”

A regulatory expert previously told CosmeticsDesign-Europe regulatory knowledge and harmonisation across the European Union had to be prioritised as industry transitioned through Brexit.

Brexit ready free-to-attend cosmetic and personal care events

MSL and CCUK’s free-to-attend Brexit events, he said, aimed to debunk the main issues cosmetics companies faced leaving the European Union but also how best to prioritise each step.

“We’re trying to educate companies on the multiple ways Brexit will impact their product development and flow in and out of Europe,”​ he said.

As a private company running the events, Fotheringham said MSL already had business experience on becoming Brexit ready. “It’s a really helpful point of view because we’re coming at it in a more pragmatic way; we’re a little bit closer to the companies that have to do it themselves.”

Lisa Buck, co-founder of Cosmetics Cluster UK (CCUK), the trade association partner for the events, added: “We just want businesses to be able to walk away with a contingency plan in place, no matter whether it’s a deal or no deal.”

The free-to-attend events are being held:

. Today (Tuesday 22 October) in Birmingham at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole

. Wednesday 23 in London at the Royal College of Physicians

. Thursday 24 in Glasgow at the Glasgow Science Centre

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