Brexit: ‘the biggest disaster any government has ever negotiated’ | Food & drink industry


A British cheesemaker who predicted Brexit would price him a whole lot of hundreds of kilos in exports has known as the UK’s departure from the EU single market a disaster, after dropping his complete wholesale and retail enterprise within the bloc over the previous 12 months. Simon Spurrell, the co-founder of the Cheshire Cheese Firm, mentioned private recommendation from a government minister to pursue non-EU markets to compensate for his losses had proved to be “an costly joke”.

“It seems our biggest competitor on the planet is the UK government as a result of each time they do a improbable deal, they kick us out of that market – beginning with the Brexit deal,” he mentioned.

Spurrell predicted in January that Brexit would price him £250,000 in gross sales. “We misplaced £270,000, so I received one factor proper,” he mentioned, describing the post-Brexit EU commerce deal because the “biggest disaster that any government has ever negotiated within the historical past of commerce negotiations”.

His on-line retail enterprise was hit instantly after the Brexit negotiator David Frost didn’t safe a frictionless commerce deal addressing gross sales to particular person clients within the EU.

Spurrell mentioned he had misplaced 20% of gross sales in a single day after discovering he wanted to supply a £180 well being certificates on every order, together with present packs costing £25 or £30. He mentioned the viability of his on-line retail had come to a “lifeless cease”.

Artisan cheese produced by the  Cheshire Cheese Company.
Cheese produced by Spurrell’s firm. {Photograph}: Paul Ellis/AFP/Getty Pictures

After he launched into a private campaign to attract consideration to the plight of UK exporters involving virtually 200 media interviews around the globe, he was invited to a web based assembly with Victoria Prentis, a minister on the Division for Atmosphere, Food and Rural Affairs. She recommended that rising markets might compensate for the Brexit-related gap within the Cheshire Cheese Firm’s funds.

Spurrell mentioned he had pursued new enterprise in Norway and Canada however post-Brexit commerce offers sealed by the government had put obstacles in place.

“We not have any skill to cope with the EU as our three distributors in Germany, France and Italy have mentioned we’ve got change into too costly due to the brand new checks and paperwork.

“And now we’ve additionally misplaced Norway for the reason that commerce deal, as obligation for wholesale is 273%. Then we tried Canada however what the government didn’t inform us is that obligation of 244% is utilized on any consignment over $20 [£15].”

That meant Canadian clients who ordered a present pack price £50, together with transport charges, have been requested to pay £178 additional in obligation when the courier arrived at their door, Spurrell mentioned. “As you may think about, clients have been saying: ‘You’ll be able to take that again, we don’t need it anymore’.”

Norwegian obligation on a £30 cheese pack amounted to £190 additional, he mentioned.

Spurrell is now pursuing the home market with higher vigour however says the price of advertising and marketing has gone “by the roof” as a result of all his opponents are having to do the identical.

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“Earlier than we might promote throughout the EU, now we’re all fishing in the identical pond. We was the biggest on-line sellers however now we’re completely bombarded with assaults by all our cheese rivals as a result of they’re shopping for all of the advertisements on Google to attempt to beat us. These are opponents who would by no means have bothered us earlier than,” he mentioned.

The “unhappy” factor, Spurrell mentioned, is that it’s the small to medium-sized firms reminiscent of his, essential employers up and down the nation, have been hammered by Brexit and different commerce offers struck by the government, slightly than big rivals.

He famous that the Canadian firm Saputo, with a market capital of greater than C$14bn (£8.3bn), had accomplished nicely out of the Norwegian deal as producers of three of the 4 “premier” cheeses singled out for “considerably decreased tariffs”.