Brexit: UK wine wholesaler moves to France due to red tape

‘In just one week I will finally leave Brexitland for good,’ Daniel Lambert says

Related: Tony Blair accepts Brexit will not be reversed despite ‘passionately opposing’ it

A leading British wine agent has decided to leave the UK citing "incredibly complicated" post-Brexit paperwork, leading to a hole in his revenue.

Daniel Lambert, whose south Wales company was named International Wine Challenge small agent of the year in 2019, had earlier criticised Brexit, saying it had caused “huge disruption” to his business.

Mr Lambert said he is moving to Montpellier in France later this week with his family, where he would set up a French company to export back to his own company in Wales. His wine company Daniel Lambert Wines Ltd supplies to Marks & Spencer, Waitrose and nearly 300 other independent retailers.

"In just one week I will finally leave Brexitland for good," he said in a tweet last Friday.

"Let me know if anyone ever finds those sunlit uplands. Not expecting an answer anytime soon."

Establishing a French company to export to the UK while carrying out administration in the EU was the only way to get around the “incredibly complicated” paperwork for importing alcohol, he said.

“I am doing what the government was suggesting, which is to have a company here and in Europe to mitigate the impact of Brexit,” Mr Lambert told The Guardian.

“What I’m doing will enable me to import and export into and out of the EU within the company itself, so that we mitigate all of the cost of importing into the UK.”

Earlier he calculated that Brexit is adding an average of more than £1.50 to the cost of every bottle of European wine sold to consumers.

Mr Lambert said that the average cost for importing wine from major European producers such as France, Italy, Spain and Germany was between £170 and £190 for a pallet of wine.

Order, collection and delivery of a pallet, containing an average 672 bottles, typically took seven to 10 days from any part of the EU, which makes up for two-thirds of the wine consumed in the UK.

Following Brexit, lead times from order to delivery of shipments have stretched to as much as 21 days from Spain, 26 days from France, 35 from Germany or Austria and 45 to 70 from Italy, he said.

Mr Lambert imports over 2 million bottles of wine a year as his business grew during the pandemic with revenues shooting up by about £500,000. However, most of the company's profit between "£100,000 and £150,000" went towards the red tape following the Brexit transition agreement in January.

Post-Brexit, transporting wine has become a tedious task for hauliers due to the complexity of the additional paperwork, which is required for importing all goods.

“The premiums that are now being paid to move alcohol, particularly across the border, are quite incredible. Brokers have found themselves doing pretty much what they like in terms of charging, because so few are willing to do it,” he said.

Mr Lambert called the British government's claims that Brexit was done “fatuous”, which has caused a hindrance to several small- to medium-sized businesses to trade with Europe.

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