Not so long ago I posted on Facebook, outlining a potential strategy for overcoming the potential issues caused by the Uk’s imminent departure from the European Union. I was told by a couple of our page followers, that we should concentrate on building the watch and perhaps not be so presumptuous as to apportion any focus on distribution methodology, however…
…No matter how you look at it, with all political bias aside, ‘Brexit’ is a total shit show. Not least because nobody is actually sure what’s going to happen; more to do with the fact that nobody seems to have a clue WHEN it’s going to happen, if at all.
From a Critic’s point of view, I totally get why we shouldn’t be distracted by the ‘cloak and dagger’ of self-serving governments and their impact on a lowly Microbrand, but as we’re crowd sourcing, the value proposition is every bit as important as the piece itself; with the possibility of newly imposed customs charges (for our EU customers), a 500 euro watch could easily become a 600 euro watch overnight, and that could kill the campaign as well as destroy the price cap we’ve worked so hard to stay under.
‘Plan B’, fundamentally, was to bring the campaign forward slightly, so we could get a number of watch cases and pertinent ancillaries shipped to the EU, in order to have them assembled there and subsequently distributed to the mainland, sans duty-fees, should the UK indeed leave the EU on October 31st – The problem here, is the trade off (as a result of launching early) between solving the ‘value proposition conundrum’ and having enough time to build enough of an audience to make the project viable.
The Brexit scenario has not improved much since I made that post, in fact there’s now more uncertainty. UK Parliament has been closed and threats of snap General Elections are being bandied around in order to enforce a hard deadline, with or without trade agreements.
So, what can we do?
To be honest, it might be a waiting game. There’s been a pretty strong reaction to the possibility of the UK leaving the EU without any trade agreements in place… The reaction has been SO strong in fact, that the UK’s governing party has lost it’s parliamentary majority and a new law has come to pass, that is intended to protect the UK from a ‘deal-less’ exit.
Who gives a f**k and why is this relevant? you might ask…
Well, it’s not just the customer’s bottom line that could be affected; we’re importing a couple of hundred Swiss movements from France. As it stands, we’ve got them at a good price, which is allowing us to stay on price-point. Add ‘two way duty’ to that and we could end up with a 850 euro watch, and let’s be honest, that’s a good Squale or used Aquis.
We understand that ‘waiting’ isn’t exactly a ballsy strategy, but at the moment, we simply have no situation that we can even react to, so after a fair bit of soul searching we have decided to tentatively hold on to our planned release date (give or take a couple of days), but we have added the proviso; that if there’s ANY indication at all that we’ll leave the EU without a trade agreement, then we will move a proportionate amount of raw material to Germany and have the cases cut there. This will add more than 3 weeks to the lead-time on production, put the launch date back to the end of November AND change the ‘Made In England’ status that we’re keen to keep, but will protect our EU customers from significant, unnecessary costs.
What happened to those review pieces?
Some good news at last! (Yay) They’re done (Yay)… But we’re not sending them out yet (Boooo). It’s important to us that the review pieces are in circulation close to, or at the point the campaign goes live, and obviously we’re not 100% when that will be. I’ve spoken to some pretty major Influencers in the ‘watch universe’ recently, and I can tell you with some conviction, that they don’t give a shit about our PR schedule; they’ll review the watch when they receive it and publish when they see fit… Thankfully, this isn’t a universal response (the Microbrand reviewers are generally awesome), but when you’re trying to coordinate your marketing activities with 8 prototypes and no solid schedule, syncopation is key.
…We haven’t forgotten you (if you’re a Reviewer/Photographer/Unboxer). You’ll still get the watch and have a minimum of 5 days with it, just keep your eyes open for correspondence… We don’t want to shoot our bolt too early, I hope you’ll understand.