The Brexit effect

1 August 2016

A new issue, and a new experience for me: for the first time I find myself Editor of WBPI and writing this introduction.

Mike Botting has been editing this magazine for the past 21 years, no less. It is an extraordinary length of time and service, and the knowledge and expertise that he has accumulated over that period are unrivalled. So too are the contacts and the many deep friendships that he has made. I am sure that all our readers will want to join with me in thanking him for his exceptional contribution over those very many years. He has become, in his inimitable way, a legend in the industry.

We will wish him an enjoyable almost-retirement, much of it I imagine to be spent in, underneath, or at classic motor-shows with the 1935 Triumph Gloria Vitesse that is his pride and joy.

I say ‘almost-retirement’ because, happily, all that accumulated expertise is not going to be entirely lost to us. Mike will remain as Editor Emeritus; which means that I, as a newcomer to the world of wood based panels, can call on him for wise and expert advice.

I take over at an interesting time. Shockwaves from the Brexit vote will reverberate for months and years to come.

One immediate result was that construction shares fell. The Interview this month is with Paul Clegg, CEO of Accsys Technologies (page 50), which produces acetylated wood fibre to make modified MDF panels. We spoke to him before the vote. Back then, Paul was adamant in his business and personal view that the UK should remain part of the EU. “I’d rather be inside the world’s biggest trade block than outside it,” he said. “It is very important to make sure there are as few trade barriers as possible and when you have issues of confidence at the margin they can have a very significant impact on trade.”

Such opinions will probably have been widely shared throughout the wood based panels industry, and not just by UK or European manufacturers but globally.

‘May you live in interesting times’ is an old Chinese curse. We must hope that those set in authority over us can work to transform any curses into blessings; or if that turns out to be beyond their powers, that at least the disruption and the length of uncertainty is minimised, and that the trade agreements that will replace the current ones are constructed with care - and with speed. Whatever arrangements finally emerge must allow all within the industry, and within society, to go about their business as needlessly unhindered as possible.