Hull haulage boss calls Brexit the biggest headache of 40-year career

The boss of one of Hull’s biggest haulage firms says six months on from Brexit has “seemed like a lifetime”. The UK’s departure from the European Union has coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic and a worldwide shortage of HGV drivers to create the perfect storm for the logistics sector. Managing drector of Neill & Brown logistics group Colin Moody said: “From a logistics point of view, the challenges have been very difficult.

: Humber Bridge chaos caused by drivers caught reversing across “At least we have managed to continue running most of our services which is more than can be said for some other industries. “Over the 40 years I have been involved in this industry there have been many different challenges but we have always seemed to get by and come out stronger.

“With Covid and Brexit, this is something completely different. To sign up for the Hull Live newsletter, click here

Neill & Brown was established in 1917

“The logistic sector is there to deliver our customers’ goods on time and in good condition but at the moment it is very demanding. “A shipment to Holland or Belgium used to take three days, now it’s five-plus days to transit.

“The transit times have increased all around Europe and worldwide.” Based in Livingstone Road in Hessle, the company was established in 1917 and now operates a fleet of 45 trucks across the UK and Europe. It also has over 200,000 sq ft of warehousing and distribution space at three sites.

Speaking at a Humber Business Week event, Mr Moody said the firm had taken on 15 extra people just to deal with increased customs clearance and administration work now required under Brexit and the UK’s new independent trading status outside the EU. He added: “We are still unsure whether this is going to be enough. “For the moment we just have to carry on as we are, esuring our staff get more traiing and see how things develop going forward.

“It’s only been since months since Brexit although it feels like a lifetime. and I am sure there will be more challenges to come our way. “Before Brexit we did a lot of preparation work because we knew what was going to happen, although we didn’t realise it was going to happen quite like it did. “It’s taken quite a while but it’s getting there.

We are seeing trailers coming in and getting cleared during the day which is working well for us. Back in January, they would be on the docks for three or four days. “As well as taking on the extra staff for customs entries, the amount of administration we now have to do on the operational side is beyond belief.”

Hull haulage boss calls Brexit the biggest headache of 40-year careerNeill and Brown is an East Yorkshire logistics company

Mr Moody said soaring costs were also making it difficult to plan future investment in the business.

“Back in September 2020, a 40ft container rate from China would cost you approximately £2,000,” he said. “At the moment, it’s costing £13,000 and you would still be unsure whether you could get a booking. It’s a very demanding time.

“It is all up in the air. Next year we are looking to buy five new trucks. Historically, we change them every five years,.

“The cost of each truck is just short of GBP100,000 but recently the costs have increased by 12 to 15 per cent so it’s very difficult to decide at the moment where and when we should invest.”

He said new rules over the time UK drivers can spend working in Europe meant more uncertainty. “We were informed by the Road Haulage Association about two months ago there was a new rule in place in Europe for UK truck drivers. “It basically means a driver is only allowed to be in Europe 90 days out of every 180.

We are still trying to find out what impact this will have on the 25 trucks we have in Europe on a weekly basis. “In the meantime, we have had to make alternative arrangements for back-up just incase.” Speaking at the same event, Hull-based partner at global accountacy firm RSM Rowena Clifton said there had been “huge variations” in how local businesses had planned for Brexit, with many leaving it to the last minute.

Even now, she said delays to the start of customs and environmental checks on imports arriving in the UK was creating continuing uncertainty for businesses.

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Hull haulage boss calls Brexit the biggest headache of 40-year career

Get the latest updates from across Hull and East Yorkshire direct to your inbox with the free Hull Live newsletters. You can sign up very simply by following the instructions here “Some firms have been quite slow to appoint customs agents to help them so I think there will be a backlog to deal with which will become quite significant as the year goes on.

“I think we shouldn’t underestimate the impact of staff shortages at HMRC either, both at the ports where customs officers are inspecting goods but also the teams updating guidance on the new trading rules.

“The guidance we have had out of HMRC has been patchy and it’s often been late and I know there have been significant delays in getting approvals for applications to use customs warehousing or inwards processing.

“Although things are better than they were in January or February, we are not out of the woods yet.”