Business

U.K. flower sector fears Brexit could nip exports in the bud

AFP-JIJI

For Sam Taylor, director of a family-run plant bulb and fresh flower business in eastern England, fears of post-Brexit delays to imports and exports are growing alongside his daffodils.

“It’s the same as every business … we’re all concerned, we would like clarity,” the 41-year-old said Monday as uncertainty over Britain’s departure from the European Union continues to roil the country.

“They need to bash their heads together and … just get on with it,” he added of British lawmakers, as they continue to disagree over a Brexit deal with less than five weeks until the U.K. is set to leave.

Taylor’s Bulbs — a fourth-generation family business founded in 1919 in Holbeach, Lincolnshire — buys bulbs from the Netherlands and sends fresh daffodils in the opposite direction. The flowers, grown at the firm’s farm, currently leave in the late afternoon and arrive for auction in the Netherlands the following morning.

Taylor is concerned by warnings that shipments could be stuck at British and European ports for days if Britain leaves the EU on March 29 without a divorce deal.

Although the fresh flowers represent only a small slice of his overall business, he says delays could wipe out exports.

“The product will not be fit for sale by the time it gets there,” he said. “It would be a market we’ve lost and that’s not great.”

His next-day imports of bulbs from Europe could also become a thing of the past if ports are clogged.

Taylor, who said he backed remaining in the EU in the 2016 referendum, fears customers used to receiving orders the next day might have to be more patient.

“No one seems to carry any stock any more because it turns up the next day. But things might well have to change.”

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