We were thrilled to be filmed and interviewed for a Panorama documentary, which was transmitted last week – do look it up on IPlayer here.
The documentary followed several companies, of varying sizes, to see how they were coping, six months after Brexit. One was a Scottish fishing company who supplied shell fish to restaurants, another a logistics company who moved equipment around Europe for touring music bands, and an Irish company. The film crew followed us for six months too and we also did some video ourselves, which was an interesting eye-opener to what goes on behind the scenes.
We were by the ‘youngest’ business involved in the documentary.
Julianne was involved with the government publicity advising small businesses to get on board with the reality of Brexit and has also expressed her personal views on the subject over several years.
Before Brexit, Creative Nature had a turnover of more than one million pounds. Although we have had some losses, we’ve also made some gains during this year and we’re on track for growth. We’re all very proud of that.
Some negatives that have come out of Brexit for Creative Nature:
- Sleepless nights (mostly for Julianne our CEO) worrying about sales to the EU.
- We deliver direct to customers’ homes in Europe, and some of them have not collected them locally because they are getting hit by EU taxes. We have lost all of our European, online customers as a result – £20,000 worth as it simply wasn’t cost effective to supply them directly due to these impacts.
- It is harder to work in the EU for less opportunities, and with a huge amount of bureaucratic paperwork.
- We had a 2,000 order in January from Malta. In March, the products were still sitting in our warehouse, because of paperwork – see next point.
- One bureaucrat told us we had to fill out animal health certificate forms to export animal products – which was slightly confusing when the products are vegan and contain no animal products whatsoever! We pointed this out, but this particular bureaucrat wouldn’t accept our situation.
- Another person did however this discussion went on for some time. One of our employees spent three hours on the phone trying to sort out the issue.
- Eventually, in April, Malta accepted we didn’t need the animal health certification. However, then before the order went on its way, we had to open all of the already packed products to stick an EU label on every single item.
Positives that have come out of Brexit:
- We have taken the governments suggestions of looking elsewhere, apart from the EU. And have been forced to think more globally, which in the long run isn’t a bad thing. In fact for us, it has turned out to have been a positive move and it’s something we were already experienced with anyway.
- We have ended up sending only a single pallet of products to Europe, but, multiples to the Middle East and half a container to Canada, and a 20ft container to the US!
- In the last six months we’ve seen a 50% rise in sales
Overall, we have been much luckier than some businesses who have made huge losses.
By staying open to new opportunities and new trade deals in different areas of the world, we feel the business is on the right track.
We’ve become suppliers to other brands which can sell easily into the EU because they deal with multiple different products and that has helped us sustain and grow our business in different directions.
Our one big lesson is to not stand still. We have had to be flexible and open and honest with our customers.