Gefco sees Brexit opportunity as clock ticks

By Simon Warburton | 16 November 2017

Gefcos customs expertise may help smooth some rocky Brexit challenges

Gefco's customs expertise may help smooth some rocky Brexit challenges

Logistics supplier, Gefco, says it sees opportunity in Brexit as well as challenges for its customers as the UK and the European Union (EU) attempt to thrash out a deal following London's departure from the trading club in March, 2019.

Businesses in the UK and in the Eurozone are becoming increasingly strident in their wish to see some clarity surrounding the Byzantinely complex negotiations as both sides appear to be keeping their public cards close to their chests to strike any deal, but the stand-off is proving frustrating for many.

"We have to face reality – clearly there is something about the future we don't know," said Gefco EVP Central Europe, Balkans, Middle-East, Western Europe & Mediterranean, Pierre-Jean Lorrain, at the recent formal opening of the company's new Liverpool logistics site already serving Jaguar Land Rover and Delphi.

"It [uncertainty] is a reality of Brexit. However, from a pure business perspective we can see that as an opportunity. For our customers, it may add additional customs and additional lead time. From our side if you take customs, there are opportunities; one sector [where] we are very, very strong is customs. Our customers will be facing additional difficulties and we are here to adapt our solutions to that.

"It is not the end of the world. It may have some impact on the global economy of the UK, but [we] do not plan to have a big, big drop in our sales for next year. We are putting ourselves in a position to answer customers' needs whatever the constraints."

There is some suggestion businesses are stalling on crystallising future investment plans into the UK until they receive clear cut answers to a post-Brexit trading landscape, with the horse-trading in the depths of Brussels corridors still no nearer to becoming policy.

Talks between London and the EU block are continuing to hit a brick wall surrounding any potential departure liabilities owed by the UK for future infrastructure projects for example and Britain's wish to secure a concrete trading relationship with its erstwhile EU partners, with the issue generating commercial uncertainty.

Just how polarised Brexit has been for the UK can be gauged by comments made by Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, also at the Gefco event. "It is wonderful we have got investment in Liverpool, creating jobs," said Anderson.

"Liverpool welcomes investment from around the world. This is a city which voted 58% in favour of staying in the European Union – unfortunately we can't declare UDI [Unilateral Declaration of Independence]."

Gefco's GBP10m (US$13m) centre, based next to Liverpool Airport, is close to automotive manufacturing sites in neighbouring Halewood and will open up opportunities for Gefco business growth.

The 12,000m² warehouse is designed to provide a range of storage, inbound sequencing and outbound transportation services to support the supply chains of Gefco customers.

Features and services provided by the facility include: inter-sequencing of different suppliers and multi-commodity solutions, simplified and reduced point of fit delivery, live stock visibility, hourly inbound flows to plant, Quality Engineering Assurance (QEA) activity and Right First Time (RFT) sequencing operations.

The new facility represents part of Gefco's integrated logistics offering, which incorporates flows management, multimodal solutions, logistics engineering and fiscal and customs procedures management.

It marks the next step in the development of a blueprint for Gefco's Supply Chain Excellence Programme which will be rolled out in other locations, notably Slovakia, France and Spain.

Gefco's warehousing business is operated across 700,000 square metres of space globally, in 59 facilities, employing more than 2,400 people worldwide.

In the UK, Gefco will move Jaguar Land Rover products from the Halewood production site to dealers in Central and South East Britain.