Irish-listed food group Glanbia is stockpiling products in Britain as a contingency measure against a no-deal Brexit.
In an exclusive interview with The Irish Times Inside Business podcast, Glanbia chief executive Siobhán Talbot said the company was not immune to the impact of Brexit.
“For products like cheese or powders we have been making plans for some time to have that supply chain as seamless as possible,” she said. “We have stocks in the UK more than we would normally have.”
When asked if Glanbia, which specialises in dairy and high-performance nutrition products, had secured extra warehousing capacity in Britain, Ms Talbot said: "Yes, for example we have a plant in Middlesborough for our performance nutrition business. We have some contract manufacturing arrangements now in place, again trying to plan for the worst but hoping for the best."
More than half of the cheese produced in the Republic is exported to the UK, and the market makes up about 3 per cent of Glanbia’s plc revenues.
Brexit is also a serious threat to its joint-venture businesses – dairy group Glanbia Ireland and Glanbia Cheese, the biggest manufacturer of mozzarella in Europe – and it sources a significant amount of milk from the North.
“An orderly Brexit would be by far the preference because yes we have a team in place to plan a no deal at this point but that’s a very difficult thing to plan for,” Ms Talbot said. “There are just so many variables. We have built up over many years, decades in some instances, supply chains, customer relationships, all of the pieces that you have as a global organisation.
“We are very much planning at this point for a no-deal [scenario] and the supply chain alternatives . . . but that does not mean that it wouldn’t be without implications [for Glanbia]. An orderly transition if Britain leaves the EU is by far the best for corporates.
“What you can never totally plan for are things like road delays, truck delays, availability even of transport. You can plan and put stocks in the locations you think is most relevant to your customers and consumers and that’s as much as you can do.”
Ms Talbot said Glanbia was also working on diversifying its exports into other markets to lessen the impact of Brexit on the group. The Glanbia chief executive last year won The Irish Times Business Person of the Year award, in association with KPMG.