Rational has started building up a considerable combi oven inventory in the UK to prevent supply from being disrupted in the event of a hard Brexit, FEJ can reveal.
With the outcome of Brexit still unknown, the manufacturer – responsible for supplying more than £50m worth of combi ovens into UK kitchens every year – is pressing on with contingency measures to begin stockpiling equipment.
The move marks a shift in approach – at least temporarily – for Rational as it is better known for not holding large quantities of stock in the UK due to the build-to-order production model adopted by its German factory.
It plans to have between six and eight weeks of standard stock in place in the UK before the end of March so that business isn’t disrupted if Britain leaves the EU without a deal.
Managing director, Simon Lohse, confirmed: “We are taking the decision now to enable the plans that we have put in place regarding a possible hard Brexit. 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.”
Rational has taken on increased warehousing space and is using a third party logistics provider to manage the situation.
“Everything at our factory is on a make-to-order basis but clearly if there are likely to be delays in import, if there are going to be delays at the ports and things, we need to make sure we don’t let customers down and our dealers down.”
Mr Lohse said the decision would not create a bottleneck for the factory as the plans have been started early enough that it is still essentially working to a make-to-order schedule.
“We are just stockpiling some of that in the UK here, so it doesn’t affect the factory. Obviously it is an investment in capital for us, but it is important that we have that continuity of supply. We will have between six and eight weeks’ supply of standard product – obviously if there is need for a non-standard product then that is going to be subject to, manufacturing-wise, a five to seven day lead time but how long the logistics takes we won’t know until after Brexit happens.”
Mr Lohse said that if Brexit unravels without any significant disruption, it will just gradually run the surplus stock down.
Other manufacturers bringing in imports from Europe are understood to be taking similar measures by increasing stocks to protect themselves from potential disruptions in trade.
And earlier this week Amazon reportedly sent an email to its UK-based sellers advising them to build up inventory and prepare for a slowdown of cross-border shipping should a hard Brexit occur on March 29. It recommends sellers have at least four weeks of inventory within the UK to fulfil orders in-country.
Meanwhile, the European Ecommerce and Omni-channel Trade Association (EMOTA), whose role is to help policymakers remove any barriers to trade, said last week that a hard Brexit would being “serious disruptions” in cross-channel trade.
In an interview with Forbes, secretary general Maurits Bruggnik warned: “In case of a hard Brexit, which seems to me the most likely scenario, we will see serious disruptions in cross-channel trade since all products will have to pass customs, product conformity procedures and other disruptors.”