With just ten weeks to go for Brexit, the majority of British ports have little or no transition plan in place, reveals a survey report published by executive search firm Odgers Berndtson.
CEOs and directors of just 16% of the UK ports said that they have made “significant or practical plans” for Brexit.
The remaining executives were equally divided between ports doing “only some high-level planning” and nothing at all.
Heads of around 100 ports and harbours in the UK participated in the poll, which intended to evaluate ports’ readiness to deal with looming Brexit.
The findings are significant as the UK Government believes that regional ports will help cut additional demands on busy ports in southern England.
Odgers Berndtson Maritime & Shipping Practice head Paul Butterworth said: “The ports industry is keen to seize on any opportunities arising from Brexit, but this is the first real indication of what’s actually happening outside ports like Dover.”
According to the report, nearly 59% of the respondents said that they expect a negative or strongly negative impact from Brexit.
Despite the lack of preparation, one fourth (25%) of UK port bosses said they are currently in a position to handle Brexit well.
A third of the respondents said they could manage the increased demand but need further investment. However, more than 40% of the respondents said they either do not know or doubt their ability to manage extra demands.
Respondents cited physical blockages and added complexity arising from Brexit as their main concerns.
Almost 80% of respondents said that they will mainly focus on investing in physical infrastructure, while 26% mentioned technology as the first priority for investment.
Most of the senior management teams (83%) said that their ports have the right people to manage operations in the short term.