A haulage giant has pulled its entire 20 daily lorry loads of GB to Ireland business and pivoted to increase trade directly with Europe saying it has become unviable, it can be revealed.
One month after the NI Protocol brought a new era in moving goods between Great Britain to NI, Aodh Hannon of Hannon Transport revealed the measures his firm has taken.
After spending £600,000 over two and a half years on Brexit preparation, the company now has a dedicated team of almost 30 staff dealing with customs paperwork.
He says chopping out its GB to Ireland trade is costing the business around £35,000 in turnover, but he's moved to replace the lost income with other parts of the business and says turnover is only down around 5% compared to this time last year.
But he's continuing to grow the company further. Hannon Transport is heading towards £65m turnover this year, with 500 staff and 230 trucks right across the business.
"The biggest problem has been on the UK side," he said. "We would have been doing 20 trucks a day - a groupage, including flowers, plants, fruit and vegetables - mostly food. Now we are down to zero."
"We had a nice selection business and pulled it all together - around 15-20 trucks (a day from GB to NI).
Mr Hannon says the cost and time required for key paperwork, particularly sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) checks which apply to things like food and plants under the protocol, make groupage loads unviable.
Hannon Transport has also added a new distribution facility at Rungis outside Paris.
“What we saw is that people are not going to be able to buy their imported goods and goods were going to have to be collected,” he said.
“We needed a depot in France to allow people to collate things (there), and not in the UK.”
He’s ramping up business coming in direct from the European mainland the Republic —adding another 80 trucks to his roster here, and sourcing products directly from countries such as Holland, Spain, France and Germany. Moving goods from Great Britain was “a nightmare”.
In one case, a truck load of avocados bound for supermarkets in the Republic was loaded on a Thursday and due to be in on the Friday.
But three days later, it was still sitting at Holyhead.
Last week the UK government announced a change in the requirements for sealing of groupage in a bid to make movement easier.