With everything else that was going on at the time, the end of the Brexit transition period and the dawn of the UK’s actual “divorce” didn’t feature so highly in the news. Many businesses had braced themselves for a “no deal” and, while recognising that it could potentially have been a whole lot worse, they are finding the impact is still very real.
How 2021 began
In the first week of the year the BBC reported, “British companies found themselves having to fill out customs forms to export to European countries, but we have not seen big queues on motorways in Kent that some feared.”
Sounded fairly promising until it was qualified by the statement that “traffic was still exceptionally low because of consumers and businesses stockpiling in the run up to Christmas”. In fact, the Road Hauliers Association (RHA) estimated that only about 2,000 lorries were making the Channel crossing, compared with the normal 5,000-6,000.
DFDS, the ferry company, then went on to disclose: "We are experiencing a high volume of vehicles being refused and delayed at the Ports of Calais, Dunkerque and Dover, due to incorrect paperwork being presented at check-in." A story quickly confirmed by other hauliers and delivery services.
Supermarkets in Northern Ireland were the first to report a reduction in certain product lines. And, in shock news, Marks and Spencer confirmed that its Percy Pig sweets had “emerged as one of the first casualties of Brexit red tape”!
Lord Rose of the retail giant Ocado went on to warn that the delays and difficulties in international shipping caused by added bureaucracy “will mean customers will inevitably end up paying more.”
While James Withers, CEO of Scotland Food and Drink, has spoken out about the reverberations in the fishing industry. He claims “We went from being able to send fresh food to Madrid with a single cover sheet of paperwork. Now there are roughly 26 steps for each transaction."
In our 2019 blog, we summarised the Brexit risks as, “In a nutshell, costs and delays.” Seems our crystal ball was scarily on-point.
Negating the risks
If both you and your customers are in the UK, working with a trusted UK production partner is a sure-fire way of eliminating these risks. Costs remain constant, customers take delivery when they expect to, and with no unexpected, hidden or additional charges or taxes. But, what if you’re in the UK and your customers aren’t? Well, while we can’t offer a solution when it comes to hog-shaped candies or even fish, if your business is retail gifts, we almost certainly can.
In addition to our 5 UK sites, we have manufacturing partners in the Netherlands, Germany and Italy. That means, UK businesses can commission the work here confident that production and fulfilment in one of the member states will go ahead without a hitch. And, if you’re looking to sell further afield, we have similar arrangements with partners in the US and in Australia.
If you’re worried about disruption, delays and how that might impact on your service delivery please get in touch. We’ll be happy to talk you through the options.