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Closure fears for Beautiful Beers in Bury St Edmunds after Brexit red tape depletes stock




The owner of a popular Bury St Edmunds shop which specialises in European beers fears he may have to close after Brexit related red tape depleted his stock.

René van den Oort, who has run Beautiful Beers in St John's Street for nearly 11 years, said it was 'desperate times' as he is waiting for a delivery of Belgian beer which he ordered at the end of January and is yet to arrive.

The beer arrived in the UK in mid-February and he is waiting for it to be cleared with HMRC as part of new Brexit regulations.

René van den Oort, who has run Beautiful Beers in St John's Street for nearly 11 years, said it was 'desperate times'. Picture: Mark Westley
René van den Oort, who has run Beautiful Beers in St John's Street for nearly 11 years, said it was 'desperate times'. Picture: Mark Westley

Before the UK left the European Union, the Belgian beer, which is one of the shop's main sellers, would have arrived within 10 to 14 days.

Mr van den Oort said: "The issue is that all goods exported or imported have to be declared so there's no free movement of goods any more so everything commercially has to be declared to HMRC.

"That is causing problems for the agents that can deal with that because you have to have special software to declare your goods.

"They're completely overwhelmed. They cannot cope with the demands and they don't have the resources to do it quickly or efficiently. As a small business we're being pushed to the back constantly."

He hopes the beer will be released next week but said the situation was a 'nightmare for small businesses'.

"At the moment we're running on our last few bottles of European beers," he said.

"I've managed to get some Danish and German beers through other channels and we now have a larger range of local brewers but English beers are very different to Belgian beers. People like variety and that's the key.

It will have an impact on the number of customers we get because we're no longer offering the variety - René van den Oort

"Over the past year, 90 per cent of my sales were Belgian beers. It's a huge chunk of my business."

The shop is down to 150 to 200 varieties of beer when it usually stocks more than 450.

"Obviously you run out of beer, we have to close our door or we can just sell local beers but not everybody wants that," Mr van den Oort said.

"It will have an impact on the number of customers we get because we're no longer offering the variety. We still have to pay our rent and have our overheads.

"We need customers through the door and we need to sell large quantities of beer otherwise it doesn't become viable anymore.

"Okay we can still keep going for a couple of months but once that beer is gone, it's gone. We're now looking at other avenues to diverse the business a bit."

He said the situation was 'very sad' after the Brexit deal was agreed at the 'last minute'.

"As a business we did our best to get ready and prepare," he added.

"Decisions were made last minute and negotiations were last minute. You need to plan ahead in business, you need a clear picture of the next three years - not the next three weeks."

Last week, Michael Gove, cabinet office minister, said the Government recognised the challenges businesses faced in adjusting to the requirements and announced a revised timetable for the introduction of import controls.

Has your business been affected by the Brexit changes? If so, email paul.derrick@buryfreepress.co.uk

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