A British wine wholesaler who last year criticized Brexit as the biggest threat to his business in 30 years has decided to leave the UK after post-Brexit paperwork left a £150,000 hole in his income.
Daniel Lambert, who supplies Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and 300 independent retailers, is moving to Montpellier in France later this week with his wife and two teenagers.
There he will set up a French company to export to his own business in Wales.
He said the only way to get around the ‘incredibly complicated’ paperwork of importing alcohol was to set up a French company to export to the UK and take care of the administration himself. EU.
“I’m doing what the government was suggesting, which is to have a business here and in Europe to mitigate the impact of Brexit,” he said. “What I am doing will allow me to import and export to and from the EU within the business itself, so we reduce all import costs in the UK.”
Daniel Lambert Wines imports over 2 million bottles of wine per year. Business has boomed during the pandemic, with revenues up around £500,000 as locked-down consumers have replaced pub visits with household supplies.
But the end of the Brexit transition deal in January eroded any profits, with red tape costing the company “between £100,000 and £150,000”, Lambert said.
His Twitter posts on Brexit rules are followed by other companies as he was one of the first to accept the 200 pages of documents per post.
“In just one week, I will be leaving Brexitland for good. Let me know if anyone ever finds these sunny highlands. I don’t expect a response anytime soon,” he posted last week.
Before Brexit, transporting wine across the Channel was relatively simple. Post-Brexit, this turned into a nightmare with hauliers fleeing the industry due to the complexity of additional red tape. All imported goods must be accompanied by documentation detailing a commodity code and other information such as the origin and destination of the shipment.
Wine imports require specialized expertise. For starters, each type of wine has an individual commodity code based on the grape variety, type of wine, alcohol content, size of container it’s imported in, and whether it’s from a protected designation of origin.
According to the government website, there are 361 different products in the wine category alone. A pallet is made up of different crates of wine, each of which attracts additional charges.
Lambert said this has proven to be a massive deterrent for logistics companies with the number of transporters now willing to transport alcohol from “hundreds” to just “four or five”, allowing brokers to charge up to at £400 for each shipment.
“The bounties that are now being paid to transport alcohol, especially across the border, are quite incredible. Brokers have found themselves pretty much doing what they like in terms of billing because so few are willing to do it,” he said.
By setting up a company in France, Lambert will be able to obtain a French Economic Operator Registration (EORI) number required to export to Great Britain in addition to the UK EORI he keeps in his UK company for import .
For Lambert, it’s complicated but it’s the only way post-Brexit to continue to trade in Britain as it will allow him to legally export and import while removing the middleman agent charging up to 150,000 £ per year for paperwork.
“It is absolutely unbelievable that in the 21st century people are actually banned from importing from Europe unless they pay brokers a lot of money,” he said.
He described UK government claims that Brexit was done as “fake” because many small and medium-sized businesses could not cope with the trade barriers that currently exist for anyone trading with Europe.