Stores confident supply routes will be safe from post-Brexit disruption

THE Co-op will not be stockpiling goods again before the UK’s full departure from the EU at the end of the year, having gained confidence during the Covid-19 crisis that its supply chains are resilient, Co-op chief executive Mark Cox has said.

Mark Cox
Mark Cox

Ahead of previous Brexit deadlines, which were later postponed, the supermarket reached an agreement with the government to store goods such as pasta, rice, tea and coffee in a warehouse to help prevent shortages, should there be disruption to supply routes.

The warehouse, situated at the top of Bellozanne Valley, has now been sold to Stannick Limited for £2.9 million.

Concerns have long existed that a no-deal scenario could cause chaos at UK ports as new tariffs and trade restrictions are imposed. This could lead to delays to the delivery of goods to the Island, which receives 80% of its freight from the UK, mainly via Portsmouth.

The Brexit transition period is due to end on 31 December, whether or not a new trade deal has been signed.

This week, External Relations Minister Ian Gorst said that he believed only a ‘thin deal’, which would be limited in scope, or no deal are now possible in the short time left.

However, Mark Cox, chief executive of the Channel Islands Co-operative Society, said the society was now less concerned about supply-route disruption, in part due to it being put to the test during the Covid-19 outbreak.

‘We are not going to be stockpiling locally again. What we are planning to do is increase our safety stock in stores, in particular longer-life products,’ he said.

‘We are working with our supply partners in the UK to make sure adequate stock is available and have reviewed contingency plans.’

He added: ‘We are assured that stock will continue to come to the Channel Islands through any challenges that there might be at Portsmouth.

‘We have been assured that goods marked for the Channel Islands will continue to reach the Channel Islands. They will go through any delays.

‘We have taken some comfort from previous planning and having had to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and the pressure that put on the supply chain, that we will have enough stock to rely upon.’

A spokeswoman for Waitrose said that it too was confident its supply route to the Channel Islands would remain intact once the transition period ends.

‘We have no plans to do this [stockpile] as the items we stock in our Channel Islands stores, which aren’t produced within the Channel Islands, are transported from our distribution centre in Bracknell,’ she said.

‘We have built significant resilience into our supply chain to be able to meet customer needs and we’ll continue to supply the Channel Islands on a priority basis.’

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