Frontline: “I was amazed. They were just trying it on.”
Carleton Cakes in Cootehill employs about 80 people and sells about 50% of its production into the UK including the north. They supply all the big supermarkets – Dunnes, Tesco, Supervalu – with tray bakes and are now selling into Aldi in Scotland. The direct impact of reduced revenues due to the fall in sterling is offset to an extent by purchasing supplies in sterling.
“We are buying more in sterling now,” says managing director Wilfred Carleton. “Flour is the big expense and we buy up to 40% from the UK, while the next big item, sugar, comes from EU countries in Euro prices.”Immediate currency issues aside, Wilfred is concerned about the general uncertainty related to Brexit among customers and indeed among staff, and its impact on company planning. “Last year we were on a high, it was all going well and we were working on expansion plans. But now it seems like a time to hold back, take stock, consolidate. We had been planning on the basis of an 80p exchange rate.”
The Frontline Project has come across some interesting Brexit anecdotes, little off-the-ball incidents and unintended consequences which emphasise the way Brexit ripples and reverberations can reach all parts of our economy.
“I was approached by one of our bigger customers, a supermarket on this side of the border. They wanted to discuss a discount. Their reasoning was that since they reckoned I was doing very well buying flour in sterling and they were a good customer, they deserved a discount. Funny, I don’t remember them coming to me offering better prices when sterling was high. I was amazed. They were just trying it on.”
The Frontline Project was carried out by Brexit Border Blog on behalf of the British-Irish Chamber of Commerce and Chambers Ireland