'I made a mistake voting for Brexit' says business owner as stock sits waiting to leave warehouse

Businesses in the West Midlands say they are experiencing big delays in exporting to Europe or having goods returned to the UK due to problems with paperwork and VAT payments.

Charlotte Stokes and Maxine Sault from C & M Global with stock waiting to be delivered
Charlotte Stokes and Maxine Sault from C & M Global with stock waiting to be delivered

Among those who are unhappy is company director Maxine Sault, who says she now believes she made a mistake in voting for Brexit

“I am wondering whether I have been weirdly transported to another planet where exporting my goods to Europe has been banned,” said Mrs Sault, who has run C & M Global and Toys 4 Life at Bednall, near Stafford, with her daughter Charlotte Stokes for six years.

“I am wondering why on earth did I vote for Brexit,” she said. She explained that other businesses she was speaking to were also having difficulties.

“One company we know in Willenhall has only been able to send one out of a scheduled six trucks out to Europe so far since the start of the year,” she said.

“Exports are 90 per cent of our business, but Brexit it has made it a lot worse. We have a couple of warehouses full of stock of second hand clothing ready to go, but the paper work is proving onerous.

“Even when we get our goods out we don’t know at the other end we don’t know whether our customers are still going to be there. It is not straightforward at all.

“The process of exporting has become a complete sham – nigh on impossible, even.

“Don’t get me wrong I am not a novice at this. I have been exporting all over the world all of my working life – around 38 years,” said Mrs Sault, who for over 30 years ran BCR Global Textiles in West Bromwich employing 120 staff.

She admits to having voted ‘leave’ because she was sick of employment and health and safety rules originating from Brussels.

“Following a challenging 2020 during the first wave of Covid-19 we were excitedly looking forward to expanding our business in 2021 putting our entrepreneurial ideas into practice.

“Our first new project toys4life went live on January 12 to encourage families with children to re-use their unwanted toys while taking many plastics out of the waste stream and landfill. To date we have not been able to export any of our finished orders due to the mind-boggling new rules that no-one seems to completely understand.”

"The vast majority of our valued customers are waiting to see how our first export goes before they order as they are terrified of their goods being seized on the border.

"Years of building relationships, trust with our customers squashed in a blink of an eye. It is heartbreaking.

"I am in total shock at the moment that all the Brexit MPs are very quiet at the moment and no one is talking about what an absolute nightmare it is to sell to the EU.

"Yes, I know we are in the middle of a global pandemic however business needs to keep moving , creating much needed jobs.

"I finally do apologise unreservedly for voting out – better the devil you know.

"Alas I made a mistake – shame politicians can't admit that too," she said.

Richard Joyce, who runs TGI Corporation in Conduit Road, Norton Canes, has been forced to halt operations due to issues with exporting to France.

He has had to lay off three of his 18 staff at a warehouse in Stoke-on-Trent.

The business, best known for its Cottonridge hoodies, is having deliveries returned from France by customers unwilling to pay VAT and duty when UPS arrive with them.

Mr Joyce said customers in France made up the bulk of his company’s £1 million of annual exports.

“We have experienced a nightmare since the start of the year,” he added. “It is now not worth us sending product to France because we would be losing money if we pay the 12 per cent VAT ourselves.”

Mr Joyce has contacted the Department of Trade and Industry to ask for urgent help in resolving the export problems.

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