Formulating a Post-Brexit Corporate Strategy: "The Biggest risk of Brexit is Panicky Behaviour"

Sophie Devonshire Caffeine

A falling currency, a damaged 'Brand Britain' and a crisis of confidence has businesses leaders reconsidering their company's strategy. Despite the headaches, a leading business consultant reminds us that where there is change there is opportunity.

The Caffeine Partnership is a strategic business consultancy based in London who work with business leaders globally.

Caffeine was founded ten years ago with a 'stimulating business' mission, providing sharp, fast consultancy to help impatient leaders.

Co-founder Andy Milligan (international brand consultant and author of 'Bend it Like Beckham' and 'Bold: How to be brace in business and win') identified the need for senior executive teams to work with senior experienced consultants.

Senior leaders are aware that a sense of certainty is needed for their organisations and in an economic climate where there are still rapidly changing parameters that's challenging.

And, cohesion and smart thinking amongst senior teams is more crucial than ever. 

So Caffeine have over recent weeks been deployed to power-facilitate a number of post-Brexit summits between executive teams and also between partnership companies when two organisations need to sound out each other's approach.

As with any other business 'crisis,' companies need to make sure they are fit for the fight - a clear strategy which allows them to be nimble and to take advantage of the new opportunities.

A Brexit-inspired Crisis of Confidence

Sophie Devonshire is the CEO having joined eighteen months ago, from a background which includes roles in Procter and Gamble and Coca-Cola as well as setting up, running and selling her own e-commerce business.

She says, “Brexit is forcing British and European-based businesses to be more prepared than ever to deal with some ambiguity and some uncertainty.  

“We're finding that there's never been a time when that's needed more than now; our clients are working out how to be able to be as nimble as possible as they work out what the true implications of the EU Referendum will be. It's uncertainty and that requires strong leadership.”

Although the prospect of Brexit is new, the country has faced a currency crisis and a credit crunch in the last few years which many firms are only just recovering from.

Devonshire says lessons learned are aiding businesses through the current challenge.

“The implications of the Brexit situation are similar in some ways to the financial crisis and credit crunch which hit the economy eight years ago.

"It's a challenge which forces businesses to be focussed on re-assessing strategic approach and their global perspectives,” says Devonshire.

Devonshire says the challenge facing businesses is that no-one really knows exactly what the economic and political fallout will be for Britain so businesses need to be ready to move fast once that becomes clearer.

Options are still being kept open.

“We are advising leaders to remain confident and remain focused on their long-term objectives. The biggest risk of Brexit is panicky behaviour. Many businesses who survived the credit crunch were the ones who focused on their customer's needs and not on panicky cost-cutting,” says Devonshire.

Crumbling British Brand but Change Offers Opportunity

Devonshire believes the #Londonisopen initiative is an excellent example of the behaviour needed - a smart, speedy response to highlight an important global message.

“We need to make sure that that message is a national one,” says Devonshire.

“I believe in the world-changing power of a positive global economy, of a business world that is connected across borders and supports people's needs in different countries, cultures and context.”

She says the growth of the digital economy has opened it up even further, with Britain's digital and e-commerce advances being something to be especially proud of.

Damage to the British Brand has been alluded to by a number of businesses Pound Sterling Live has spoken to with the Brexit vote creating a perception that Britain is becoming less open to the world.

“Great Britain is a brand. It is one facing a crisis at the moment; possibly one of the most significant it's ever faced. All British brands have benefited from the association with a forward-thinking, innovative and intelligent nation; they are now at risk as their 'parent brand' is seen as confused and closed to being part of something bigger,” says Devonshire.

The consultant urges Theresa May and the government need to act fast to send out clear symbols of our openness to growth and opportunity.

Speed is essential to calm panickers and to allow companies to see that Britain is still great and still a great place to be.

“Wherever there's change there is opportunity. So we need to find alternative routes and a different way of thinking which still positions Britain as the entrepreneurial, ambitious and open place that it historically has been and still can be,” says Devonshire.