Businesses fear delays and red tape in European trade
PUBLISHED: 17:57 17 April 2019 | UPDATED: 17:57 17 April 2019
East Anglian businesses feel they have been left in limbo by the failure of Parliament to agree a Brexit deal - and there are growing fears for jobs and export trade.
Bosses are adamant that continued uncertainty could harm job security an investment here.
Elizabeth Pearce, chairman of the Suffolk branch of the Institute of Directors, said: “We are still in a state of limbo which increases the worries for companies. There is a real worry there will be a no-deal Brexit.
“It extends that uncertainty for businesses and it is difficult for them to make decisions on how they can develop and grow their businesses in such an uncertain marketplace.
“There is huge frustration in companies now. It delays investment and may prevent external countries from wanting to invest in the UK.”
Among those frustrated businesses is long established Supreme Petfoods of Hadleigh, which makes pet food and products for a variety of small pets including rabbits, guinea pigs and hamsters.
Managing director Chris Childs said they feared a no-deal Brexit which would have serious implications for sales into Europe both in increasing costs and introducing delays.
He said: “Due to the ongoing Brexit uncertainties, Supreme has already made 'no deal' contingency plans which has among many things, included the building of inventory.
“This has of course tied up our cash and has delayed us from making investments.
“While we are making plans as best we can to protect ourselves, our employees, our customers and in Supreme's case, our customers' pets, it is impossible to plan for the unknown.
“It is therefore essential that the UK government makes every effort to resolve this Brexit impasse as soon as possible so that businesses can plan for the future.”
Supreme has been manufacturing pet food in Suffolk for nearly 30 years and has in more than of 50 employees.
It exports its Science Selective and Tiny Friends Farm brands more than 30 countries around the world.
“Exporting our products to countries within the European Union is a significant part of our business,” he added.
“Having traded freely within the EU throughout its history, Supreme is concerned about the uncertainty of Brexit and the challenges our business may face. The impact of a 'no deal' Brexit would not only affect jobs at Supreme, but may also have an impact on the jobs of our local suppliers and those working within their supply chains in the region.
“In addition, any disruption to the supply chain and movement of goods may also have an effect on rabbit welfare, as rabbits' health can be seriously affected by a sudden dietary change.”
Although it has a meat-free factory, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, every consignment for Europe would need a Export Health Certificate approved by a vet. EHCs are not required by the EU currently, so exports can flow freely through the port of Felixstowe.
Port delays and tariffs would be another problem for UK businesses, he added.
Those fears are echoed by other companies.
Surya Foods is one of the region's businesses left frustrated by the ongoing uncertainty created by the Brexit extension.
The international food company, based in Harwich, is part of the Flying Trade Group and imports and exports world food across the globe.
“We are in the same position as we were yesterday and we simply don't know what kind of trading arrangement the UK will end up with.” Said Suki Dulai, chief executive of the Flying Trade Group.
Harry Dulai, Surya Foods managing director added: “It is not the concept of Brexit causing an issue for businesses, it is the uncertainty.
“Unfortunately this is simply a continuation of that uncertainty and it will continue to hinder our business: it leaves a question mark over pricing, availability and delays our long term investments.”
“We have already seen retailers delaying promotions for the remaining part of the year from which we are now seeing a short term inflation.
“We are fortunate to have substantial storage capacity to strengthen our stocks so any delays at the port wouldn't affect us too much.”