High street foodservice chains are placing advance orders for critical pieces of catering equipment to ensure their 2019 expansion plans aren’t dented by any fallout from Brexit.
With a no-deal Brexit scenario on the cards, and uncertainty within the industry over how things will pan out when the UK officially leaves the EU in March, operators fear they could struggle to get hold of the kit they need.
A large volume of heavy duty equipment supplied to the UK market comes from Europe, most notably Italy and Germany.
Multi-site operators responsible for dozens of new builds and refurb projects every year are so concerned that their roll-out schedules could be impacted in some way that they have taken measures to secure the inventory they will require.
One industry source revealed that at least one chain, which more than 1,500 outlets in the UK, had placed a forward order for ovens to guarantee that it can equip new branches in 2019.
“Whatever happens with Brexit they have already bought a lot of next year’s equipment to help them through,” said the source. “We have actually seen it happen a couple of times – the braver companies have said they want to try and do the deal prior to Brexit.”
Uncertainty over Brexit has left many in the industry speculating what might happen when the UK goes it own way.
With pending Brexit levies and decisions on import duties yet to be fully agreed, buyers are waiting to see if equipment suppliers will be forced to revise pricing next year.
Simon Lohse, managing director of Rational UK, recently told FEJ that it was impossible for manufacturers to rule out anything until the situation is finalised.
“If we end up with a Brexit result of ‘no deal’ there may be additional costs, such as import taxes and significant currency devaluation. If that happens we may have to consider how these additional costs will be covered.”
At the start of this year, trade body CESA warned of the “complex” issues involved with product legislation once the UK breaks away from the European Union.
It has held meetings with relevant bodies throughout this year to map out the implications for the market, including areas such as product testing, conformity and safety regulations.