By Richard Gruppetta
It was January 2019 when we firmed up our commitment to formally establish a foothold in the UK come July 2020. The world was a markedly different place back then; no one had heard of the term COVID-19 and the idea of a pandemic sweeping the globe and causing serious illness and economic strife couldn’t have been further from the minds of most of us.
A term we were all very familiar with however, was Brexit. The referendum had happened more than two years prior and negotiations to withdraw were hard fought. It was a tricky time that none of us will care to dwell on.
By the time the UK left the EU our plans for a UK base were firmly underway. Of course, many questioned the impact Brexit would have on a family-owned Aussie manufacturer hoping to utilise Britain as its base for wider European expansion. We were completely confident. We had been speaking to the Victorian government as well as the UK Department for International Trade and we knew our growth in the marketplace was supported. It was through these conversations with the DIT that we strategically selected the North West as our home, despite the draw of London and the South. We want to use our investment to contribute to the economic growth of the UK’s Northern Powerhouse.
Setting up operations in Knutsford also came with the support of Cheshire East Council. Both parties have committed to a Memorandum of Understanding which sets out a package of business support measures that will underpin our progress in the area.
On the eve of our establishment further encouragement came our way. The UK and Australia had commenced negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement and Simon Birmingham, our Minister for Trade and Liz Truss MP, Secretary of State for International Trade held a webinar to set out their ambitions. It was a moment of immense pride to be named during this meeting as an example of what the FTA could mean for companies from both countries. It is hugely fulfilling to be regarded as blazing a trail that others will hopefully follow.
Of course, the world has had to negotiate the challenging landscape of the coronavirus in the meantime and we have not been immune to its effects. Aside from the very devastating impact on the lives of thousands of people, it has turned the business community across the world upside down. But we are an agile and tenacious company and we are prepared to take informed risks. The UK presents an opportunity for greater growth and we are proud to lead the way towards a very prosperous future in the history of UK-Australia relations.
Richard Gruppetta is International Trade Advisor for Ego Pharmaceuticals in Melbourne.