While many British catering equipment manufacturers are reporting that it’s too early to discern Brexit’s impact on trade with Northern Ireland, others have already seen a marked difference since the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.
For Lincat, it’s been a relatively positive change, with group marketing manager Helen Applewhite reporting: “We are now speaking to our partners in Northern Ireland more regularly than ever before. We have had to pass on a small customs charge to our partners, however this charge is placed on a per consignment basis regardless of the quantity of equipment ordered. To mitigate the customs charge we are working closely with our partners to consolidate their orders.”
While Victor Manufacturing has more mixed fortunes, as commercial manager Hayley Dean, detailed: “We are not able to see a true reflection of the health of this channel due to the ongoing disruption that the coronavirus safety restrictions are continuing to cause. Since the PM’s ‘Roadmap to Recovery’ announcement at the beginning of March, we have seen an increase in the number of enquiries from Northern Ireland. As a company, we were already prepared for the UK’s departure by implementing and updating despatch procedures and administrative paperwork needed for shipping into both Northern Ireland and The Republic to ensure as little disruption as possible to supply.”
However, others detail that there are now trade barriers, such as Falcon Foodservice Equipment. According to MD, Peter McAllister: “Our sales into Northern Ireland have continued to be strong but there’s no denying it’s more difficult to supply into there now, with paperwork being a real challenge. However, we are working closely with our logistics partners and customers to overcome any hurdles in our way.”
Hoshizaki takes a dim view on the impact, with UK national sales manager Roz Scourfield commenting: “Our experience of post-Brexit trading is that the government’s promise of frictionless trade with Ireland has not materialised. The additional costs and administrative processes are restricting growth rather than encouraging it.”
And at Electronic Temperature Instruments, director Jason Webb acknowledged there has been a trading hiccup with Northern Ireland: “It’s vital that shipments are provided with the correct documentation and EORI numbers, which products going to Northern Ireland need. However, many companies, or the people placing the orders, were unaware of the importance of EORI criteria. Inevitably, we have had instances where shipments got stuck and people paid extra duties. Whilst it was painful shipping to Northern Ireland at the beginning, it has now been rectified and is now running as it was. It was a learning process. It’s like changing a computer system and getting used to the new processes.”