Procurement and supply management professionals have a unique and important view, and control over how to mitigate impact on supply chains and build stronger networks. As guardians and suppressors of panic within their own organisations they have a great opportunity to implement not just best practice but sustaining the future of their business. Throughout the Brexit process CIPS will be regularly gathering the view of procurement professionals and reporting on their responses.

The Brexit Storm

How procurement and supply chain professionals are tackling the issues

11 Mar 19 - UK exporters will foot the bill for Brexit border delays, EU supply chain managers warn

A delay of just one day at the UK/EU border could lead to a significant bill for British exporters in late delivery discounts and lost contracts, according to a survey of supply chain managers from the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS).

  • One in ten UK exporters could have contracts cancelled if there are delays at the border
  • One in five EU businesses will expect a discount from UK suppliers if border delays persist for just one day
  • Just 40% of UK businesses would be able to export to the EU in the event of a no deal as a result of EU customs requirements

 A delay of just one day at the UK/EU border could lead to a significant bill for British exporters in late delivery discounts and lost contracts, according to a survey of supply chain managers from the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS).

The warning from European supply chain managers comes as the UK enters a crunch week for Brexit, with the prospect of border complications looming large. While UK businesses have been slow to prepare for a no-deal scenario, EU businesses have been preparing to push costs down to their British partners.

A 24-hour delay at the border would see 20% of EU businesses push their UK suppliers for a discount on their order while 11% of UK exporters would expect to have their contract cancelled outright by their clients in the event of delays. A quarter of European businesses, meanwhile, would withhold payment until after goods arrive, posing potential cash flow challenges.

If that delay grows to 2-3 weeks, 60% of EU businesses would leave their UK suppliers in the lurch, switching to back up suppliers based elsewhere. Worryingly for consumers, considerably fewer (44%) UK businesses would be able to switch to an alternative supplier if there was a similar delay getting goods into the country. The uncertainty has already proved too much for some of the UK’s European business partners, 38% of whom have switched suppliers as a result of Brexit, up dramatically from 18% in October 2018.

The findings come from a survey of 1,749 UK and EU-based supply chain managers, the professionals responsible for navigating customs, negotiating with suppliers around the world and keeping supply chains moving.

A no-deal, meanwhile, would lead to thousands of British exporters being turned away at the UK/EU border because they lack the expertise, data or technology to comply with the relevant EU customs rules. Just 40% of UK supply chain managers say they would be able to comply with four* of the EU’s customs requirements, leaving them unable to trade with the EU if the UK left without a deal later this month.

While border complications seem likely, this has not been enough to put off all UK businesses from exporting to the EU. The survey found that 39% of UK businesses said they will continue exporting to the EU after Brexit regardless of possible delays and costs, signalling that British exporters are determined to sell their goods to the continent despite short term risks.  

*The survey asked respondents if they could: apply for an EORI number; ensure they can complete each data field in the declaration; agree responsibilities with their customs agent and logistics provider; and identify software for submitting documents if they do not use a customs agent.

John Glen, Economist at the Chartered Institute of Procurement & Supply (CIPS), said:

 “The financial cost of Brexit indecision will not be paid in Whitehall, but by Britain’s businesses. Britain’s supply chains are so finely balanced, that even a temporary delay at the border after March 29th will see UK businesses paid later and paid less for their goods. These costs, combined with a lack of investment, will likely reduce the number of exports coming out of the UK and result in a reduction of the UK’s competitiveness on the international stage.

 “If the UK does stumble out of the EU without a deal next month, the majority of British businesses would not even be able to file the right paper work to get goods across the border. Whatever happens in the coming days, Britain must still invest in the skills, relationships and technology to take its new place in Europe and beyond.”

Click the link to hear the full interview with John Glen.

The next report will be available at the end of April.

The previous survey findings are available to download below.


Read the full November 2018 report:

Read the full June 2018 report:

 Read the full July 2017 report:

The Brexit Storm

Preparing for Brexit

How are many UK supply chan managers preparing for Brexit?

With many procurement professionals starting to take active steps now to focus attention on the possible impact of U.K’s exit from Europe. CIPS have sought feedback and guidance from our procurement community.

As experts align their processes and systems to buffer them through what could prove to be turbulent times, they have offered insight and guidance for practical application and consideration that may support you in your role.

Read the CIPS position on Brexit paper: