Brexit Proof Q&A: 'As a haulage business, Brexit will bring additional admin costs'

Pamela Dennison is development manager at WS Dennison, which has depots in Antrim and Limerick

WS Dennison development manager Pamela Dennison: ‘Best-case scenario is a Border similar to today.’

Pamela Dennison is development manager at WS Dennison which employs 32 people and has depots in Antrim and Limerick.

What was your reaction when you heard the UK had voted to leave the EU?

I was surprised at the result. It was presumed that people had become comfortable with the status quo and would resist change. Anxious at what changes would be implemented and how government would negotiate with the EU regarding the Border. Relieved, that we can start to move away from laws which are designed to please 28 countries and therefore compromises have to be made by everybody, thus resulting in poor laws.

How is your business likely to be affected?

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As a haulage business working throughout the island of Ireland, specialising in furniture logistics, Brexit will bring additional processes and procedures with additional administration costs, also in the event of a hard border these can result in timely delays for customers and also add expense to goods.

How much do you rely on exports or the supply of materials across the Border?

Working in haulage, our industry is the path to exports for all industry throughout the UK and Ireland. Transport is the lifeblood of both economies, ensuring the safe and timely movement of all goods and products we buy off the shelves or order online; fuel, building materials, food, medicine, IT hardware, furniture, clothes, etc.

When did you begin preparing for Brexit and what contingency plans have you put in place so far?

In 2006 we opened our secondary depot in Limerick, this has worked in our favour post-referendum as we can maintain a delivery model similar to today, however, in order to ensure our movements at the Border – hard or soft – are as unrestricted as possible we have employed a Brexit consultant to guide us through the different requirements for both ourselves and our customers.

Are you examining new markets/suppliers and, if so, how practical is that?

We are resistant of any changes currently, until clarification on the Irish Border is certain.

Does Brexit present any opportunities for your business?

Offering an all-island logistics service as a business model pre-referendum, with depots in Antrim and Limerick, this has stood us on good stead with new customers coming on board post-referendum as part of their Brexit strategy.

When do you expect to be Brexit-ready?

Having to rely on HMRC for custom processes has been a slow and painful. I presume they are under-resourced, as it takes them at least six weeks to reply to emails. We are in the final stages of our Brexit strategy and it should be finalised before October 2019.

What’s your best-/worst-case scenario?

Best-case scenario is a Border similar to today. Worst case is a hard border.

Are you stockpiling goods/raw materials?

We are a logistics provider and this is not relevant to us. However, we are aware a lot of our customers have stockpiled goods and raw materials.

How might the Irish or British governments, or the EU help ease the pain of Brexit for your company or sector?

Stop kicking the can down the road. This has been the hardest position for business to manage, three years later and we are still in the same position. The British government should have not triggered article 50 until they understood the complexities of the North/South supply chains.

As a business we received an abundance of information from the Irish Government immediately after the referendum results and still do now. The British government did not release guidance for business until November 2018, five months before the original departure date in March 2019.

How do you think the Irish/British governments have handled the Brexit negotiations?

I believe the Irish Government should have taken a stronger position and assisted in developing a strategy with the UK government regarding the Irish Border, as businesses in the South using the all Ireland supply chain have as much to lose as businesses in the North. Ultimately affecting jobs and economies in both countries.

Looking out five years, how do you think your business or industry will have changed as a result of Brexit?

We have come to rely on and take for granted the final mile delivery process; next day delivery, the movement of goods at marginal costs. This will come to an end with the tariffs on goods, extra administration costs, additional handling, restrictions on movements, customs, delays due to inspections, errors. This new era may bring new opportunities, but I am sure not without hardship first.

Would you like to see a second referendum on Brexit?

No, the question has been asked and answered.