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NI businesses are ‘sleepwalking’ through Brexit negotiations, leading experts warn

Grant Thornton and Cleaver Fulton Rankin to host breakfast seminar on how businesses can prepare for EU departure

Many Northern Ireland businesses engaged in cross-border trade are ‘sleepwalking’ their way through Brexit negotiations, leading experts have warned.

The warning comes ahead of a breakfast seminar, to be hosted by leading business advisory firm Grant Thornton and Northern Ireland Law Firm of the Year Cleaver Fulton Rankin, which will examine the key tax and legal considerations companies must make in preparation for Brexit.

Entitled ‘Brexit: The Final Countdown Begins’, the seminar will address a recent InterTradeIreland report which revealed that 91% of businesses with cross-border sales had not made plans to deal with Brexit.

It also follows media reports last week that a Government paper on the economic impact of Brexit is predicting that Northern Ireland will sustain one of the biggest hits to economic growth after withdrawal from the European Union.  

Peter Legge, Tax Partner at Grant Thornton NI, and Michael Black, Director and Head of Employment at Cleaver Fulton Rankin, will speak at the event, which will take place at Grant Thornton’s new Donegall Square West office on 1 March.

Peter said:

“We are now entering a critical phase of the build-up to Brexit, but many businesses appear to be sleepwalking their way through the negotiations.

“With just over 13 months to go until the UK leaves the EU, reports have revealed that only 9% of businesses with cross-border sales have made plans to deal with Brexit.

“This needs to be urgently addressed, and our breakfast seminar will help to do that. Businesses across Northern Ireland must seek expert advice in order to get strategic plans in place to prepare for all eventualities - before it’s too late.

“Last week’s media reports about the severe impact Brexit could have on Northern Ireland have brought the issue into even sharper focus than before. There are a lot questions to consider and we will examine these in detail, and provide fresh analysis on the crucial next steps that businesses must take.”

Also speaking at the event will be Mark Sterritt from InterTrade Ireland and Conor Lambe from Danske Bank. Intertrade Ireland offers financial support up to £2,000/€2,000 towards professional advice in relation to Brexit matters and both Grant Thornton and Cleaver Fulton Rankin are approved advisors under this arrangement.

Michael from Cleaver Fulton Rankin said:

‘The immigration and employment law challenges posed by Brexit will inevitably affect Northern Ireland Business. Although the exact exit model has yet to be determined, it is clear that free movement of EU workers in NI will come to an end and that will have a significant impact on businesses which are reliant on EU workers. Getting expert advice in relation to the legal implications of Brexit for your business will help you prepare your business for the inevitable changes which will be introduced”

For more information, or to book a space at the breakfast event, contact us at