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Euro Projects Recruitment Business Leaders Zoom Call 3rd August Summary - Impact on Global Markets for Export

Global Trade

Stephen Brown

Euro Projects Recruitment Business Leaders Zoom Call

For Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, Transportation & Logistics Professionals

HR & Covid Update + Covid-19 Impact on Global Markets for Export

Summary of Key Points: 3rd August 2020

Covid-19 & Business Update

Stephen Brown from Euro Projects Recruitment

Welcome to our 20th week of hosting this Zoom Call.

Last week saw a further lockdown in Greater Manchester and the North West.

Some criticism about the timing of government lockdown announcements with this latest announcement made at 11pm, creating difficulties for a lot of employers to communicate with employees and a lot of reports of employees calling in work to ask if they are required to attend work; a problem potentially exacerbated by people seeing it as an opportunity to enjoy some nice weather. The advice around coming to work has not changed though.

The FTSE 100 has increased by over 1% today on the back of Spain, Italy, France, Germany and UK publishing their Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) for July, with a broadly optimistic picture of recovery, although demand for big ticket items such as cars remaining subdued.

US-China tensions continue to impact USA businesses, as well as the gathering pace of the USA elections.

The EU told UK banks last week to prepare to have trading arrangements in place for a no-deal Brexit.

With these large and influential geo-political events taking place on top of our economic recovery from Covid-19, we feel our topic of how international trade and UK exporters are coping with the current situation to be well timed and we are delighted to have contributions to today’s call from:

  • James Grainger, Director of Grainger & Worrall Castings – Castings for Automotive & F1.
  • David Farrar, Managing Director of Trimark Europe
  • Dion Bowden, Director of Zapeo & Praxima -  Africa’s largest Employer of Record and Payrolling business
  • Tiffany Hoffine, Director of Aquantus, Atlanta Georgia, Specialist Finance Search business

But first over to Helen Dyke, Senior Associate Solicitor, Irwin Mitchell LLP for our latest update on employment law being shaped by Covid-19:

Helen Dyke

DDI: 0121 214 5242

Mobile: 07435966985

Job Retention Bonus:

The government has confirmed that if a business brings an employee back from furlough and they remain employed from the beginning of November 2020 until the end of January 2021 the business will be eligible for a grant of £1,000 per employee.

The government will provide more details on how to submit a claim for a grant in September.

Redundancy Notice Periods during Furlough:

The government has clarified the law for redundancy notice periods of employees on furlough – notice period payments must be calculated at 100% of pay and not 80% during the furlough period.

Irwin Mitchell have updated their FAQs on their most recent blog:  

Employee Annual Leave:

Having good communication with employees and company policy on taking holidays during the Covid-19 pandemic is really important – ensure your employees know what will be expected of them if they were to take their holiday in a country where they need to quarantine upon their return.

You are NOT able to put an employee on furlough whilst they are on holiday but you can place an employee on furlough if they need to quarantine for 14 days and are unable to work from home.

Employees can only be placed on furlough if they have previously been furloughed for a minimum of 3 weeks on or before 10th June 2020.

Dealing with employees returning from Spain or other potentially locked down holiday destinations:

Panel Discussion – How Covid-19 is impacting the Global Economy for British Exporters

Stephen Brown – Trimark is a £12m UK based subsidiary of a $90m USA Corporation making locks and latches for large capital equipment such as construction and agricultural equipment, with factories in USA, China and UK serving Europe and MEA -  Would you lead us in please, how did Covid-19 impact you and what are you now seeing as a result of Covid-19 on your business?

David Farrar - Trimark saw an immediate drop in sales to 30% of typical order intake, which has gradually improved since June.

China has been largely supported by the Chinese Government and is now operating at full strength.

UK and European markets improving with Construction equipment sector currently down by circa 30% and Agricultural sector down by 20%.

There is a lot of volatility as pre-Covid purchase schedules doesn’t reflect current order call off.

Strong concerns around new business development opportunities and sales channels without the ability to visit exhibitions and customers.

USA parent Corp is finding their political situation impacting the clarity needed to make investment decisions.

Stephen Brown – Having heard from David working for a USA parent corporation, how do you feel what he has said reflects on what is going on in the USA and how are you seeing the American economy on the ground over there?

Tiffany Hoffine - We work closely with CEOs of major corporations in the USA, since Covid-19 we have seen three type of business leader emerge in accordance with Todd Herman article in Forbes Magazine:

  1. The Fear Focussed CEO
  2. The Unfocused CEO
  3. The Strategy Focussed CEO

Over the last month or so we have started to see CEO’s move out of fear mode and intro strategy mode to drive their businesses forward.

One client, a CFO of a Billion Dollar Corp said in March he thought they would never close monthly accounts remotely, they are now moving to an entirely remote operation and do not intend renewing the lease on their city offices.

The last 6 weeks have been particularly pleasing for us with a number of clients undertaking ‘opportunistic’ hires – recruiting top talent whilst other businesses struggle.

We have more search assignments for strategic finance professionals e.g. Financial Controllers and Chief Finance Officers than 12 months ago. Accounting, Auditing and Tax professionals are also very much in demand.

Very discernible shift now amongst clients towards Strategy focus with an emphasis on ‘top-grading’ under-performing employees. A move seen by Euro Projects Recruitment in the UK across all disciplines and particularly in Sales as emphasized by Steve Goodall of Original Input Sales Training.

Read the full Forbes article by Todd Herman here:

Stephen Brown – Grainger & Worrall produce castings for some of the best known and most exciting automotive brands as well as for most of the F1 teams, no doubt many of us will have watched your products in action on TV at the British Grand Prix yesterday. You also sell across Europe and into the USA so let me come to you next, and before I do, may we also congratulate Grainger & Worrall on receiving the Queens Award for Innovation this year. A great recognition of achievement for you and your colleagues.

How are you finding things now and what are the main impacts of Covid-19 on GW?

James Grainger - We were heavily impacted by Covid-19, everything seemed to stop at the end of March / beginning of April. We were about 80% down on sales for the month of April.

Since May we have seen a slow but steady recovery back to around 50% of sales and we forecast to be at around 75% of pre Covid-19 sales levels by the end of the year. It remains an unpredictable time at the moment but we are looking forward.

The niche vehicle / hyper car market e.g. Aston Martin, McLaren, Bentley has not bounced back yet and their financial results have been well documented by the press.

Procuring materials from suppliers has generally been okay but we have seen some suppliers that were not on a solid footing pre Covid-19 unfortunately fall into administration / receivership.

We typically acquire new business through networking, face to face meetings and generally having a strong presence across the industries we serve. In the short to medium term it will be a challenge and interesting to see how we build those relationships without having the opportunity to conduct in person face-to-face meetings.

Stephen Brown – Dion, your businesses run some of the largest payrolls in Africa for your international clients and Africa is a large and emerging market for business, with a traditionally mineral based economy, which I know many of our own clients ultimately supply to. We are hearing how bad Covid-19 is affecting Africa at present and it is naturally worrying to think of how countries lacking the health infrastructure of own and quite stretched systems must be affected - How are things in Africa right now?

Dion Bowden – Zapeo allows you to legally deploy your team in foreign territories without risk; avoid fines, penalties, and criminal litigation through a pre-established Employer of Record co-employment partnership.  It covers all fluctuating payroll taxes, employment legislation, unemployment, and related insurance costs for your employee.

Africa went into ‘lockdown’ about one week after the UK but it is much more complex situation in South Africa due to the living conditions in some regions. Covid-19 infections are still rising.

We have seen a growth in a payroll business even during the last few months. This is typically where a company has strategically identified a particular territory in Africa it would like to build a market place and hires a commercial person ‘in territory’ to do this for them.

The entertainment sector has been particularly hard hit like most countries as there is less work due to less business. 

UK and European businesses have a lot more connections in Africa and large ex-pat communities so that enables them to conduct business a lot more successfully than USA based organisations.

West Africa – Kenya, Malawi, Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast have seen good levels in investment of recent years. FinTech, Cyber Security and other Tech companies particularly see Africa as a good place to be and as start-ups they don’t tend to hire their own employees, they use our employer of record business and this has been growing despite the pandemic.

We will be taking a two week break, returning at 2pm on 24th August, where we will be joined by Tim Standen, former Global VP of Ocean Solutions for DB Schenker, Inbound Supply Chain Manager for Homebase and currently International Supply Chain Director for Kuehne & Nagel, employing over 80,000 people at some 1400 locations in over 100 countries, Tim will be discussing how Covid-19 is shaping international supply chain and logistics.