'Every consignment has been delayed like hell' - Sheffield exporter's fury over Brexit trade deal

A Sheffield exporter says every consignment this year has been ‘delayed like hell’ due to Brexit.

By David Walsh
Thursday, 1st April 2021, 12:42 pm

Ken Torres has seen delivery times to the EU soar from three days to up to four weeks, with some loads ‘totally lost’ for more than a month.

Each carrier has demanded more and different paperwork which varies for each country. One quit serving the UK altogether while others introduced new charges.

Mr Torres, a veteran of 40 years in business, said he would have been ‘finished’ if he sold commodities available elsewhere in the EU.

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Ken Torres at Torres Pumps and Engineering says government should have sorted out post Brexit trading arrangements years ago. Picture Scott Merrylees

But Torres Pumps and Engineering on Brightside Lane makes pumps to order and customers have been ‘very understanding’. Exports are 70 per cent of business.

Mr Torres said: “Since January 1 every damn consignment has been delayed like hell. We would be delighted with a week – but it’s more like three or four, with some lost for over a month, to the same customer, the same place and the same carrier as before.

"My customers appreciate we have done nothing wrong, they have done nothing wrong. When will this end?”

The company is among a growing number in Sheffield struggling to export to the EU following the end of the Brexit transition period on January 1.

A Federation of Small Businesses survey of 1,483 firms nationally found 23 per cent have temporarily halted EU sales, 70 per cent have experienced delays and 32 per cent have lost goods.

Mr Torres added: “There’s been no thought for SMEs. All this should have been set up three or four years ago. It’s not hard to do but it should have been at government level not between companies and carriers.”

The first full quarter of post-transition trading ended on Monday March 29. It was two years since the original Brexit date firms were told to prepare for in 2019.

FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “Three months on from the end of the transition period, what we hoped would prove to be teething problems are in danger of becoming permanent, systemic ones.

“While larger firms have the resources and bandwidth to overcome them, smaller traders are struggling, and considering whether exports are worth the effort anymore.”

He urged struggling firms to apply to the SME Brexit Support Fund – and government to top it up if necessary to meet demand.

A UK Government spokesman said overall freight volumes between the UK and the EU were back to normal levels from the start of February, and there was ‘no general disruption at UK ports’.

He added: “Our zero tariffs and zero quotas Trade and Cooperation Agreement has allowed us to take back control of our money, borders, laws, and our waters, as well as enable us to strike trade deals with the world’s fastest growing markets.

“We want to ensure that businesses get the support they need to trade effectively with Europe and to seize new opportunities from our trade deals. That’s why - in addition to the £20m SME Brexit Support Fund - we are operating export helplines, running webinars with experts and offering businesses support via our network of 300 international trade advisers.”

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Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor.