Brexit hits home
I’ve been thinking about Brexit again. It’s not that I don’t have other things to think about, it’s just that after four and a half years, it’s hard to shake the habit. In any case, it hasn’t really gone away, has it?
I know that, like our partners in Europe, we’re doing a decent job on our side of the Irish Sea of moving on, but it still feels as if there’s quite a bit more to shake out before we can say things are starting to settle.
The pandemic hasn’t helped, of course, but the shambles unfolding in areas like fishing, logistics, customs charges and even, music, in the UK are quite something to behold.
A few weeks ago, I ordered something online from a .ie website and I was given a delivery date of five to seven days after my order. My order didn’t arrive. It was stuck in Basildon, England, where it remained for 15 days before it was finally given customs clearance and sent on its merry way.
What I didn’t appreciate when I placed my order was that the .ie website was part of a UK-headquartered business. How many other people in Ireland will find themselves in the same boat? Quite a few, I should think.
My wife, for example, who bought something from a business that had the word Ireland in its name on 30 December. The item finally arrived yesterday (21 January). Explaining the delay, the company in question explained “due to the longer than expected transition period from exiting the UK and entering Ireland, we are experiencing much longer delays than we would ordinarily experience”.
Optimistically, the company added: “We are confident the situation will improve as new processes within the new systems become more adept when dealing with customs declarations etc. at border entry and we are working closely with all parties to expedite the process.”
I suspect a lot more people have been caught in this same messy set of circumstances. It will be interesting to see what effect it has on UK businesses with .ie websites in Ireland that have a business model built on supplying products to Ireland from the UK.
Taking the scenic route
Anyway, it got me thinking about supplies to the channel in Ireland and whether there had been an impact. If they were being routed through the UK, would that continue or would suppliers opt to supply product to Ireland from another EU country?
I’ve asked a few people and not had much of a reply so far. But Michael Conway, director at Renaissance, did get back to reveal that most of the hardware supplied to the distributor has been rerouted through the Netherlands rather than shipped from the UK. And if you missed last week’s column, James Finglas, managing director at MJ Flood Technology, revealed that suppliers were already arranging for products to be delivered from countries like France instead of the UK.
On the software side, Conway says it “is typically being transacted through EU subsidiaries of the vendor while the vendor/relationship management has been kept through the UK. This is the same for multiple partners/vendors.”
While things are still evolving, “the overall logistics challenges and travel issues” are causing “a significant delay and impact”, he adds.
I’m hoping for more responses over the next few days.
One other point, I wonder if it’s sustainable to continue to cover the vendor relationship management for Ireland through the UK in the long term. While it made perfect sense when both countries were in the EU and the single market, I’m not sure it still does. Might we be better off served as part of a European relationship rather than a UK & Ireland one? Also, is the UK now separated from European distribution and supply deals?
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