Economy

This Dutchman has to guide his three companies through Brexit

Van der Peet is full in the London hospitality industry. He arranges staff for cafés and bars and has also been importing his own brand of gin for a few years now. Last year, right before the corona crisis, Dutch craft beers were added (think of the beers from het Uiltje and ‘t IJ).

For all three companies, it will be more difficult to run things properly after December 31, 2020, he says. “You do notice that there is uncertainty in the market. Many trading parties find it difficult to organize everything. Also because it is very unclear what you have to organize for both sides, ie the UK and the EU, in terms of papers and permits.”

Laundry list of papers

As an importer of beer and spirits, Van der Peet has not learned much from all the certificates, regulations and websites that you must have or plow through in order to continue to trade. It has become a huge paperwork, he says. “We are in the process of getting new licenses for the import, we are looking further at it.”

To be on the safe side, they did have a large shipment of Dutch beers in in December, enough for the first quarter.

Extra paperwork, extra costs

What is clear is that Brexit is causing him a lot of administrative hassle for the drink. “Either you have to apply that you are an authorized economic operator yourself, or you need an agency as an intermediary. Your products must be registered at the border and you have to pay import duties. into the process. “

Left or right, all the extra paperwork costs him extra money too. Partly for this reason, he still manages the beer import himself, together with the other three director-owners of the company. “I have the idea that a few things will be adjusted in the near future. Then it would be a shame to have the procedures changed now and to hire people for it and then have to do everything again months later. . ”

Less margin

The turnover that Van der Peet gets from beer and gin imports will in any case be hit by Brexit, he says, because it will become more expensive to sell European products in the UK. “Either you choose as an entrepreneur to pass on the costs, making your product more expensive, or you take on those costs yourself, so that you have less turnover.”

It makes a difference that there is a lot of money in London, he says. “And it has become one of the rules to participate here. You have to expect that you will have less margin.”

A big fine threatens

For Mise en Place – the third company and the reason he moved to London in 2016 – things are different again. The employment agency for catering staff will be bothered by the fact that a lot less foreign students will come to London, Van der Peet thinks.

“Students, from within and outside the EU, now need a visa. This stipulates, among other things, that they are not allowed to work more than 20 hours per week in addition to their studies. If you do, you will be expelled from the country and a hefty fine as an employer. A student can of course have several clients, especially in the hospitality industry, and then it is up to you as an employer to keep track of whether that person has already worked 20 hours. ”

He expects that other sectors in which many non-British people work, such as healthcare and construction, will also face gigantic staff shortages. “Certainly in the hospitality industry, if the corona restrictions are lifted soon.”

Calculation is done quickly

This is partly because the British themselves are probably not eager for later ales tapping at the counter or serving the scones. “In the Netherlands, but also in Italy and France, the hospitality industry is a real profession, in which you can still work well at a later age. Here it is seen as work that you only do when you study or if you really cannot do anything else. ”

In addition, the decreased exchange rate plays a role. At the time of writing, the British pound is worth approximately 1.18 euros. “That was 1.45”, says Van der Peet. “For Eastern Europeans who came here to earn a good income, that is no longer worthwhile. In countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands, wages for their work are higher and the costs of living lower. Then the calculation is quickly made.”

He does see Brexit as a positive thing for catering employees. “If there is a shortage of staff, British catering companies will have to pay a fairer salary. Now you get the minimum wage and deal with it. With scarcity you have more negotiating power. Maybe bartenders will finally be able to live in London and not just work. ”

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