Business booming for Burke Bros as Brexit deadline looms

Business is booming thanks to Brexit for removals business Burke Bros.

Gary Burke, managing director of removals firm Burke Bros, in Wolverhampton
Gary Burke, managing director of removals firm Burke Bros, in Wolverhampton

The Wolverhampton-based family firm is experiencing its busiest time for its moving teams in nearly 30 years due to people seeking to make the move to France before the end of the year.

Managing director Gary Burke said that the business could not fit in any more moves this month and bookings were almost full for December.

The 16-strong fleet of the business in Fox's Lane has been working flat out since the first lockdown ended and Mr Burke said that original fears that it might have to lay off up to 30 staff had proved unfounded.

"It is absolutely hectic at the moment," said Mr Burke.

He explained that with the Brexit deadline looming, Burke Bros was busy moving clients to new homes in France and the business was also getting a growing number of bookings for UK moves as the Stamp Duty holiday deadline approaches on March 31.

"When we came back after a two-month lay off we thought we might have to lay off 10 to 30, but when we came in to get ready to re-start operations we found people were ready to move straight away," he said.

"We took 24 house move bookings to France at once. We found solicitors had been busy working from home and everything was prepared and in place for people to move straight away.

"The extra business came at a time – June to August – when we are traditionally at our busiest with movings."

Mr Burke, who founded the business which specialises in international moves in 1981, said he had been amazed at the number of people trying to get a move to France sorted out before the end of the year.

"We have specialised in moving people to France since the 1980s. The last time it was as hectic came in 1990 to 1992 when the borders were about to come down in Europe.

"People are now trying to get out there before their entitlements are gone when the Brexit deadline hits."

He said that for the first week of December alone there were a dozen booking to move to France.

"That is going to be a lot of work. We are also getting people wanting to move to Cyprus and Portugal," he added.

"It meant we did not have enough vehicles to look after our Black Country customers moving locally.

"We were so pushed that vehicles we were going to sell and were off the road have had to be brought back in to the fleet.

"We had postponed orders for new vehicles back in April and May because we didn't know what the business would be like because of the pandemic."

Mr Burke said the company was also seeing growing bookings from people in London looking to downsize and move to the Midlands and companies offloading office space in London and moving staff to home working and relocating offices.

"There is also new business coming in from people moving away from built-up areas into the countryside," he added.

"In the end we did not have to lay off anyone, but we were grateful for furloughing which protected our company.

"Now we are taking on more HGV drivers, porters and office staff. We are interviewing every week."

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