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BRC pushes back against Gove's "retail is ready for no deal" claim

Lauretta Roberts
26 September 2019

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has refuted a claim made by Micheal Gove in the House of Commons yesterday that retail was "ready" for a no-deal Brexit.

Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, made the claim as Parliament was re-convened after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's prorogation was deemed unlawful and invalid by the Supreme Court. He made the same claim of the automotive industry.

However BRC CEO Helen Dickinson said it was "impossible" for retailers to completely mitigate for the disruption a no-deal exit from the EU would cause.

“We have been crystal clear that while retailers are doing everything they can to prepare for a no deal Brexit on 31 October, there are limits to what can be done. It is impossible to completely mitigate the significant disruption which would be caused by no deal," she said.

Dickinson has long been arguing that the timing of a no-deal exit in the run-up to the peak trading period would put immense pressure on retailers and add to pressures on warehousing capacity. She has also warned of higher prices, in particular in food.

“Checks and delays at the border, limited warehousing capacity in the run up to Black Friday and Christmas, and the increased reliance on imported fruit and vegetables through the winter months mean that popular goods, such as strawberries, tomatoes and lettuce, would likely see reduced availability, and higher prices," Dickinson said.

Recently pro-Brexit fashion retail boss, Lord Simon Wolfson of Next, said his business was prepared for no deal, but he said getting a deal would be his preference.

Wolfson said the retailer might event reduce its prices by up to 2% in the event of no deal. He claimed the Government’s temporary tariff regime means a no-deal Brexit would be likely to reduce the fashion and home furnishing chain’s import duty costs by about £25 million, which it would pass on to customers.

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