As we edge closer to March 29, there is a real sense within the foodservice equipment supply chain that the market faces some serious turbulence ahead — and what’s more there is no telling how long it could last.
Uncertainty — the most over-used buzzword of the moment — has got the market speculating what might happen when the UK leaves the European Union, with tariffs, taxes and import policies very much at the forefront of the conversation.
With such a large volume of equipment imported into the UK from factories in Europe — notably Germany and Italy — any logistics disruption could prove problematic for operators trying to plan new projects or re-equip kitchens.
Manufacturers have been assessing the scenarios that a hard Brexit could bring for some time, but with Westminster appearing not to agree on anything right now, many feel they can’t wait any longer to put contingency plans into action.
The UK arm of German combi oven maker Rational confirmed it has started building up inventory locally to prevent supply from being disrupted. It plans to have between six and eight weeks of standard stock in place in the UK before the end of March.
“We are taking the decision now to enable the plans that we have put in place regarding a possible hard Brexit,” explained managing director Simon Lohse.
“If it doesn’t happen it doesn’t happen, but our planning will be in place. We are building up stocks in the UK so that we can make sure that we have continuity of supply, the supply chain is safe and we don’t let customers down.”
Logistics issues posed by Brexit are not unique to the catering equipment industry, but that doesn’t mean suppliers can afford to dismiss them.
Winning new business in a competitive market is a challenge in itself; those that aren’t fully prepared for the chaos that some think will ensue will only make life more difficult for themselves.