£3m cost of Brexit a drain on Sheffield healthcare firmÂ

A Sheffield medical company boss says he 'can't see anything positive about Brexit' after spending £3m stockpiling supplies and hiring staff to handle red tape.

Friday, 14th December 2018, 09:30 am
Updated Friday, 14th December 2018, 09:33 am
Chief executive and chairman of B.Braun Medical Hans Hux. Picture Scott Merrylees

Hans Hux, chief executive of B.Braun Medical said the firm had bought a £2m warehouse near its Chapeltown headquarters and rented more space from distribution companies, doubling UK stock.

But it was 'dead money' that could have been spent 'recruiting, developing and training people.'

Hans Hux. Picture Scott Merrylees

The German company is also helping about 150 staff apply for documents they will need to say in the UK after March 29. Some 11 per cent of the 1,500 workers UK are from the EU.

And it has been forced to hire 25 people to 'administer Brexit.'

The estimated £3m costs will dent B.Braun's profits this year, Mr Hux said.

He added: 'I can't see anything positive from our point of view from Brexit.'

Warehouse unit acquired by BBraun to stockpile supplies ahead of Brexit.

Mr Hux also said he felt guilty about not speaking up ahead of the referendum.

'I made a big mistake, we said '˜it's up to the people in our organisation to decide', we are not influencing them. German industry in general did not have a position.

'In hindsight we should have made a really big effort to say what it could mean for business. We are to some extent guilty.

'European money has also created jobs, the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre and the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre have received it and it has helped fund all the developments in the Dearne Valley.'

The B.Braun CAPS nutrition, chemotherapy and pain management unit, which has created 160 jobs in the last three years.

Mr Hux also said high level medical research funded by the EU was being moved from UK universities to other countries.

B.Braun is about to announce seven per cent turnover growth this year, on its £186m turnover of last year.

The firm makes a wide range of products and services for humans and animals.

Mr Hux highlighted the new Pathway service, which uses wearable sensors to help patients recover from surgery, infusion pumps which supply nutrients and drugs into the body, decontamination services, a '˜sat-nav' for surgeons to find the best angle to fit artificial joints, a remote surgery system and EinsteinVision which gives 3D views inside the body.

Grinding a medical tool a B.Braun.

 'The NHS is our main customer but the surgeon is still the decision maker for certain hi-tech items. Cost is important but it's important to get across the long term benefits. Our job is to make new products acceptable to the NHS with documented proof of how they work.'

Robot surgeons performing 'simple operations,' like removing an appendix, are about 10 years away, he believes.

B.Braun employs 61,000 worldwide, but after 179 years it is still a family business. And the owners have always said it is not just a commercial operation, Mr Hux said.

'Prof Braun always encouraged people around the world to get involved in the community and that's what we do here.'

The firm funds the Yorkshire Air Ambulance and the Northern General Hospital helipad appeal. It also a long standing supporter of Sheffield Sharks basketball team and hand-cyclist Karen Darke who is competing in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics.

It has also achieved the Investors in People Gold Award for the third time, placing it in the top two per cent of IIP firms nationally.

BOSS COMMITTED TO GROWING UK BUSINESS HAS STAYED 25 YEARS

German-born Hans Hux was always keen to work for B.Braun overseas.

His first posting was to Tokyo where he spent eight years, before being lured to Sheffield as managing director of Aesculap. When UK operations were amalgamated under the B.Braun name in 1999 he took over as chief executive.

When he arrived in the UK, turnover was £3m and growing the business was 'a challenge big enough to commit to.' That was 25 years ago. Turnover today is £200m and the aim is to hit £300m in the next three years.

'There are still huge opportunities to grow,' he said.