Pubs stockpile for a no-deal Brexit

By Alice Leader contact

- Last updated on GMT

Brexit stash: pub protects its Belgian essence by stocking up on goods
Brexit stash: pub protects its Belgian essence by stocking up on goods

Related tags: Pub, Beer, brexit

A Belgian-themed pub in Norwich has stockpiled goods amid fears the business could be ‘flipped onto its head’ if the UK is left with a no-deal Brexit.

The Belgian Monk serves beer that is directly imported from Belgium, along with food dishes that come from Holland.

For the past four to six weeks, the owners have ensured they have enough stock to see them through until January 2020.

Belgian Monk co-owner Terry Hughes said: “If we come out with a no-deal, hopefully, the dust would have settled by then and we’ll have a better picture of how we go forward.”

The pub makes its duty payments up front, which can take a two week turnaround on paperwork.

Hughes said: “If Boris Johnson decides to come out with a no-deal on 31 October, it wouldn’t give us enough time to turn it round.

“Therefore, we can’t sit on the fence and wait until 19 October then breathe a sigh of relief if there is an extension.

“We just can’t be in a situation where we don’t have beer because that’s what our concept is all about.”

Pub chains

Earlier this year, signs of panic buying were seen as businesses began increasing their imports to negate the need to pay import fees under a ‘hard’ Brexit.

Midland Pallet Trucks managing director Phil Chesworth said: “Brexit is scheduled to take place less than two months before Christmas, so it’s obviously very natural that retailers who rely on goods from the EU will be keen to secure those items that are typically in demand over the holidays, such as alcohol, at fee-free prices.

“Clearly, stockpiling is far from over, but we are keen to reiterate that stockpiling is a plaster on a wound, and that we must look at longer term solutions to prepare for whatever situations we may find ourselves navigating post-Brexit.”

In May 2019, there were reports that the pub chain Marston’s had stocked up on an extra £6m worth of Estrella beer.

Other pub chains such as Greene King said they were also preparing for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

The pub operator has previously said it was working closely with its partners to safeguard the continued supply of goods to its pubs and breweries, as well as the export of its beers.

Chesworth added that while there are stockpiling trends within big chain brands, he had heard reports of smaller independent pubs also adding to their usual supplies in preparation for Brexit, such as the Belgian Monk.

Dead money

The Belgian Monk’s Hughes added the only downside of being a small business, while it is a busy operation, is the money put into stockpiling goods is eating away at the business’s cash flow.

He added: “Luckily Belgian beer does have a good shelf life, it's not something that will spoil. But it is dead money.”

While there are other suppliers that sell Belgian beer, Hughes said his venue’s beer menu is not the norm.

“We deal with small brewers and have products that are exclusive to us. We offer something that no one else can get and that’s the way we built our business.”

Everything the pub offers from the beer to the glassware, and from the menu to the bar snacks has a Belgian ethic.

He continued: “We need that breathing space because, at the end of day, we don’t have an alternative.”

Related topics: Beer

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