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Co-op seeks extra freezer space to cope with no-deal Brexit

Co-op seeks extra freezer space to cope with no-deal Brexit

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Co-op seeks extra freezer space to cope with no-deal Brexit

The Co-op has warned it may need to "shrink" some ranges and is looking to secure additional freezer space to stockpile food, as the impact of a no-deal Brexit on local supply becomes clearer.

In March, the supermarket signed a £13,500 contract with the government to store an extra seven days of stock – covering 92 pallets of 87 products – to avoid any shortages in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

But now, Express understands, the government has revised its stance that islanders should merely stock up as if preparing for a "long bank holiday" – an instruction first put out by the Chamber of Commerce – in case the UK crashes out of the EU and is looking for a broader deal than the one originally struck.

Express has contacted the government for comment and is awaiting a response.


Pictured: The Co-op's Acting CEO, Mark Cox.

In a statement, Acting Co-op CEO Mark Cox explained that the supermarket was now releasing some of its previously stockpiled goods back onto its shelves.

"Earlier in the year, we made a Brexit related order of 15,000 cases of ambient goods which were stored at our warehouse in Bellozanne. We have started putting some of this stock back on sale in our Grand Marché stores, but will have some reserves held should they be required," he commented.

Mr Cox said the community retailer was still firmly committed to helping islanders through any difficulties arising from a no-deal Brexit, pledging: "We will do our upmost to make sure the supply chain has as little disruption as possible."

He added that the Co-op was closely working with the Co-operative Group, which has been importing and stockpiling food in the UK, and added that their no-deal preparations now also involved "looking at uplifting stocks of key frozen bread lines across both islands and investigating contingency plans to secure additional frozen storage capacity locally."

Mr Cox continued: "Our local suppliers have been fantastic and, where possible, we are taking additional volumes of local products.

Pictured: Mr Cox said some of the goods the Co-op had stockpiled are now being released back onto Grand Marché shelves.

Despite these preparations, he did warn that the Co-op may need to "shrink [its] ranges in some areas."

"Food prices may also be impacted by a no deal Brexit, but we would like to reassure members that we will do all we can to mitigate any potential impact following Brexit," he stated.

The news comes after government officials published their 'No Deal Planning Assumptions and Mitigations' report following the UK's government's release of the 'Operation Yellowhammer' document, which said the Crown Dependencies would experience major supply chain disruption in a 'worst case scenario' Brexit.

Jersey's planning document explained that delays to the arrival of ferries and disruption to overland freight movements into Portsmouth International Port arising from a 'no deal' Brexit would have a "significant and swift impact on the availability of goods" across the island – "particularly fresh food".

The issue, the document noted, was that Jersey has always relied on a so-called "'just-in-time' supply chain", as the majority of local wholesalers and supermarkets "do not possess extensive warehousing capacity".


Pictured: Food prices are expected to arise if there are supply issues following a no-deal Brexit.

Channel Islands officials are therefore said to be working closely with Portsmouth International Port and the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Local Resilience Forum to help mitigate the disruption.

Closer to home, the government also said it was in close cooperation with the Chamber of Commerce and "Guernsey colleagues, who share the same supply chain vulnerabilities".

Amid the disruption, it is expected that food prices could be subject to inflation, hitting vulnerable people harder in the pocket.

To deal with this, a cross-government working group has been established to monitor prices weekly and help develop policy to address this where necessary.

"The group are also engaging with the parishes, third-sector and other organisations to identify and share information on how best to support vulnerable people in the event of a no-deal Brexit," the government's no-deal plan said.

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