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he industry of Freight Forwarding has been hindered and confused by the word Brexit before, during and after its final inception. When Brexit was first announced the industry had immediate challenges to deal with, usually from customers exporting from the UK into Europe, with the common question of ‘What does Brexit mean for my business?’ and this included customers who imported into the UK goods that then exported to Europe.

The biggest problem was that no one knew the answer; we couldn’t confirm any real ‘facts’ to appease our customers.
The Government certainly couldn’t assist at the time with deals still bouncing back and forth and no real sign of a confirmed process that the industry could seek to adapt towards.

The confusion throughout the industry meant that we were unable to begin any practice to future proof ourselves for the coming storm.

Among the growing negatives there was however the odd positive as a variety of new enquiries popped up on email. We’ll skip over the initial problem in that we couldn’t immediately assist as we ourselves had no idea what new procedures would be put in place but this was at least a new enquiry requesting our assistance as Brexit approached.

Our initial decision was to liaise with our European partners and our haulier options to ensure we could all try and venture forth all on the same page when the time came continuing to build upon our relationship within our already strong network.

A percentage of our particular Imports clear into the UK and then they are re-distributed throughout Europe, to a variety of different sites. Currently this option doesn’t exist; our customers have refrained from sending these shipments for fear of the inability to move them into Europe and the heavy charges that could be involved.

Charges went up across the board as hauliers and European carriers looked to cover themselves as they were still in the dark with what additional costs could be involved. No one wanted to lose business so many of our options continued to quote regardless of what was to happen.

As the dreaded day approached however and filing and documentation requirements became clearer it oddly caused many European options to stop quoting altogether. Even our DPD option for courier moves froze out their European option now that they had more information. I guess companies finally having an understanding of what was needed gave them a little hope but meant they needed to halt their logistical movements so that they could train staff, get documentation sorted etc, so they could then offer people the full service.

We chose to simply advise our customers that we currently had no option and we were looking into the new processes, filing and ensuring staff would be trained and ready to assist going forward.

The future, at least from my point of view, still looks a little concerning regarding Brexit. I mean, why would a customer pay for goods to ship to the UK, clear through UK Customs to then require Export Clearance and Import Clearance throughout Europe? They will surely now look to send these goods direct to a European hub, Germany for example, to then distribute throughout Europe. 

Aside from this initial concern you have the heavy element of trust when discussing part load shipments from the UK.
Full trailers for a single customer still have their pitfalls but at least  
the trailer is controlled by one set of documentation for one customer. What happens when you involve more than one customer per trailer?

Imagine that you are Customer A, with 4 euro pallets heading into Europe, your paperwork has been triple checked and you’ve assured your customer of delivery. The problem is that Customer B’s paperwork seems to have something missing, only now being established at the border, they only have 1 pallet on the same trailer but the whole trailer is held due to the problem with Customer B’s paperwork. Now imagine you’ve customers C, D, E and F also on that trailer making up the full load and you can see where this could become a real problem.

This new complication has led to a lot of European hauliers only offering full trailer services whether you have 1 pallet or 33. So the pricing as previously mentioned has sky rocketed in  some cases. 

For UK manufacturers, besides these concerns, it’s simply additional cost and potentially a little extra time for delivery from point A to point B. So their main aim will be to add these new costs into their charges whilst still remaining competitive in whatever market they’re involved in. This again could cause issue down the line as European buyers seek more ‘local’ options to avoid the additional costs to Import from the UK. Couple this with many UK businesses likely looking toward building up their own full load trailers rather than sending smaller shipments risking paperwork they have no control over.

For manufacturing, only time will tell whether the UK ‘build quality’ and service will outsell the European options. With regards to logistics, companies such as ours simply need to get through this adjustment period. We need to ensure the new systems and documentation requirements are in place and try our very best to offer the full service at the right price to all our customers shipping UK to Europe whether this be UK based manufacturers or UK customers importing goods from the likes of China and then re-distributing to Europe.

We will continue to assist our customers and ensure the smooth running of our business offering reliable services and advice to the very best of our ability.

Greg Palmer, General Manager, Reliable Shipping