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Beauty brand was well prepared for Brexit

Moxi Loves founder was quick to put contingency plans in place

 Pamela Laird, founder of Moxi Loves, signed up for customs training workshops to prepare for Brexit.   Photograph: Michael Donnelly

Pamela Laird, founder of Moxi Loves, signed up for customs training workshops to prepare for Brexit. Photograph: Michael Donnelly

 

Lots of business owners struggled to prepare for Brexit. Pamela Laird wasn’t one of them.

Laird is the owner of Moxi Loves, a “clean beauty” brand. Though well known for her appearances on UK TV show The Apprentice, it’s her innovative products that have become international stars.

Hero products such as facial cleansers and dry shampoo sheets sell across the UK, Spain, Germany and the US, through pharmacies such as Boots and Lloyds, and on platforms such as Amazon and Ocado.

Eager to protect those sales as Brexit approached, Laird was one of the first business owners to sign up for customs training from her Local Enterprise Office (LEO) in Dublin city.

“We started selling into the UK in 2019,” she says. “It’s easy to assume that because the UK is a neighbour and a similar market that it will be alright, but there is far more to it than that and the LEOs are brilliant at preparing you. In the end we decided to go with a wholesale and distribution partner.”

LEO customs training workshops helped get her get contingency plans in place.

“I wanted to know what was going to happen. Customs training helped me figure out all eventualities so that, from best-case to worst-case scenarios, I knew what I needed to plan for. As a result, my business is more robust,” she says.

She also received mentoring support. “I had great LEO mentors, people who were an amazing help with things like distributor agreements and margin calculations. These were people who can give you a deep look into how to build out your export strategy, right down to pallet sizes and how to build palleting costs into your margins.”

When Brexit happened, at midnight on December 31st, she was ready. “I had done all the workshops and listened to the mentors so I was prepared.”

Taking on a wholesale distribution partner in the UK was the best move she could have made, she says. “I stocked up in the UK specifically so that I wouldn’t have to send anything over there for the first four months of this year,” she explains.

Import procedures for goods entering the UK are now in place, though the UK has announced that customs declarations can be presented for imports from the EU retrospectively during a transitional period ending on June 30th, 2021.

At that point traders will have a clearer view of the full impact of Brexit in terms of supply chain delays.

Tariffs

Interestingly, the true costs of customs practices worries Laird more than tariffs. As a seasoned importer and exporter of goods outside of the EU, she is already used to dealing with tariffs which, at a fixed and knowable cost, are easily factored into her pricing.

By contrast, she can’t put a figure on the full cost she will incur as a result of all the additional bureaucracy Brexit imposes.

There are other, hidden, costs on the way too, she predicts. “For example, one issue at present is that, at the moment, there is one cosmetics portal for the EU where we upload all of our regulatory information. The UK has announced that the one it is setting up will not be exactly the same,” she points out.

It will require her to have a UK address on her packaging, and appoint a “responsible person” (RP) to act on Moxi Loves’ behalf there. “For the packaging we have two years to implement the changes, but I’m thinking now about the RP side, and figuring out what my options are,” says Laird. Needless to say, she will be ready well in advance of the deadline.