British cheesemaker who predicted Brexit would cost him hundreds of thousands of pounds in exports has called the UK’s departure from the EU single market a disaster, after losing his entire wholesale and retail business in the bloc over the past year.
Simon Spurrell, the co-founder of the Cheshire Cheese Company, said personal advice from a government minister to pursue non-EU markets to compensate for his losses had proved to be “an expensive joke”.
“It turns out our greatest competitor on the planet is the UK government because every time they do a fantastic deal, they kick us out of that market – starting with the Brexit deal,” he said.
His online retail business was hit immediately after the Brexit negotiator David Frost failed to secure a frictionless trade deal addressing sales to individual customers in the EU.
Spurrell said he had lost 20% of sales overnight after discovering he needed to provide a £180 health certificate on each order, including gift packs costing £25 or £30. He said the viability of his online retail had come to a “dead stop”
After he embarked on a personal crusade to draw attention to the plight of UK exporters involving almost 200 media interviews around the world, he was invited to an online meeting with Victoria Prentis, a minister at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. She suggested that emerging markets could compensate for the Brexit-related hole in the Cheshire Cheese Company’s finances.
Spurrell said he had pursued new business in Norway and Canada but post-Brexit trade deals sealed by the government had put barriers in place.
“We no longer have any ability to deal with the EU as our three distributors in Germany, France and Italy have said we have become too expensive because of the new checks and paperwork.
“And now we’ve also lost Norway since the trade deal, as duty for wholesale is 273%. Then we tried Canada but what the government didn’t tell us is that duty of 244% is applied on any consignment over $20 [£15].”
- Gift pack product cost (including transport) = £50
- Duty on the £50 gift pack = £178
- Total cost for a £50 gift pack due to Brexit = £228
That meant Canadian customers who ordered a gift pack worth £50, including transport fees, were asked to pay £178 extra in duty when the courier arrived at their door,