A British cheese maker has sold his company to a bigger competitor to regain access to customers in the European Union after Brexit with a black hole estimated at £600,000 in lost EU sales.
Simon Spurrell, who made headlines when he highlighted exorbitant export costs following the UK’s exit from the single market, will remain managing director of Macclesfield-based Cheshire Cheese and will retain a stake in the company.
Its new owner, fellow family-run Joseph Heller Chase in northwest England, has maintained a presence in the European Union as a result of its large operations and distribution center in the Netherlands, which Spurell hopes will make supplying to European customers viable once again.
Spurell said he is happy to be back on the continent after a two-year absence, but still can’t believe how the government has destroyed small businesses like him with its decision to leave the European Union.
“The sad thing is that small businesses like ours don’t have access to the EU,” he said. “Selling the company is a great solution…it secures the future of the company with a historic cheese maker.
But I am still very disappointed and bitterly disappointed by the fact that I had a lot of conversations with the Department of International Trade and government ministers and nothing happened.
They are powerless because of the Brexit policy. They are so anti-European that they will not even discuss a better deal. Reaching the single market should be the first step.”
Spurell claims that after campaigning in the press last year to highlight his case, many people told him that Boris Johnson referred to him as a “bloody cheese man”.
Government departments advised him to look for new business in “emerging markets”, an adviser who said it was laughable given the huge market on Britain’s doorstep.
Spurrell founded the business in 2010 selling trucks of wax-wrapped cheese and has won numerous awards for 15 artisanal varieties including cheddar, cheshire and royal blue.
It grew 30% annually and by 2019 decided to invest £1 million in a warehouse in Macclesfield to fulfill orders in Europe for longtime favorites including Irish whiskey and ginger cheddar, a gold medalist at the International Cheese Awards.
But when Brexit export rules went into effect, he was subjected to a veterinary certificate fee of up to £180 on retail orders for EU consumers – even for those who buy £30 personalized gift packages – making his business unfeasible. To continue overnight.
In 2021, the first year of Brexit trading operations, he lost £240,000 to wholesale and consumer trade in Europe and was looking for another £350,000 holding this year.
And although increased domestic demand during the pandemic cushioned the losses, he couldn’t see a way back into the single market as a small business.
Spurell said the alliance with Joseph Heller, a much larger concern, provides strategic means of dealing with expensive Brexit trade barriers.
“If you are big enough, you can mitigate the increased costs because the cost of paperwork for one pallet of cheese can be spread over 100 pallets. It will also benefit all customers in the EU because they can get a local delivery rate.”
He said the deal, which was sealed for an undisclosed amount, was also good news for his workforce. All head office, production and warehouse staff will be retained while 14 additional full- and part-time positions will be created.
“We were so worried about Christmas this year. We didn’t know what was going to happen and my main idea was to all the guys here with me. They are all served now by this wonderful company we have joined… It gives our team a little bit of safety in the future. “
George Heller, Managing Director of the Joseph Heller Group, said: “We are delighted to welcome Cheshire Cheese… Together, we are confident we can expand its reach across the UK and Europe.”
Countless consumers and businesses have been hit by the costs of Brexit since 2020 with additional delivery costs making sales and purchases from Europe sometimes very expensive.
Recent analysis of trade statistics by the Institute for Economic and Social Research shows that trade from the UK to the EU was 16% lower than if Brexit had not occurred.