CONSUMERS will bear the cost of the trouble facing traders following the imposition of Brexit red tape, a senior retail chief has warned.

Chairman of supermarket delivery company Ocado, Lord Rose, said delays and difficulties in international shipping caused by added paperwork meant the “cost will be passed on to the consumer”.

The trouble already experienced following the end of the Brexit transition period  has led to major parcel courier DPD pausing some delivery services into Europe, including Ireland. 

Meanwhile supermarket giant Marks & Spencer said the new regulations will “significantly impact” its overseas ventures in Ireland, the Czech Republic and France.

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Yesterday M&S said 380 products would be temporarily unavailable in its Northern Ireland stores due to the Brexit customs arrangements on the Irish Sea border.

The products include Tunnock's caramel biscuits, Percy Pig sponge rolls, antibacterial kitchen wipes, cotton wool, birthday candles, Stella Artois bear, chicken ramen, almonds, cashews, decaffeinated teabags and sweet potato mash.

A spokesperson for the company said: "Stores have been receiving regular deliveries this week, however following the UK’s recent departure from the EU, we are transitioning to new processes and we're working closely with our partners and suppliers to ensure customers can continue to enjoy a great range of products."

Meanwhile a haulage firm boss predicted the customs changes would lead to a “bloodbath” for the sector, with delivery delays eating into already tight profit margins.

It comes after Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove warned businesses and hauliers yesterday that there is likely to be “significant additional disruption” at the UK border as a result of increasing trade traffic, particularly at Dover.

The National:

Lord Rose, the ex-Remain campaign chief and former M&S chairman, told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “You can’t interfere with a finely honed, 50-year legacy supply chain and expect it to all run smoothly on day one.

“The issue of transport and hauliers not wanting to send their lorries here is because they are worried about their lorries being stuck and worried about lost profit, which means therefore the cost will be passed on to the consumer.

“You will see some short-term shortages but let’s be clear, there is not going to be a famine.

“Food will continue to come in, although at this time of the year 50-80%-plus of our fruit and veg comes in from Europe and beyond and a lot of that comes in through Dover on trucks.

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“We’re talking about fresh product which is perishable. If it doesn’t get out within 24 hours, it goes off, it rots, it gets thrown away – that’s lost profit, that’s a real problem for businesses both ways.”

The UK Government now has promised to “redouble” efforts to inform traders of the paperwork required.

Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal ensured free trade on goods could continue, but being outside the single market and customs union has still meant added checks on cargo entering Europe.

As well as requiring the correct paperwork, including export declarations and the extra certificates needed for products such as plant and animal products, hauliers must also secure a negative Covid-19 test and a Kent Access Permit before embarking on their travels onwards to Europe.

The latest Government figures show that around 700 lorries have been turned away from the border since new rules came into force and about 150 fines have been handed out for non-compliance with new rules designed to reduce truck queues in Kent.

But officials have warned that those numbers could increase as the flow of lorries heading through Kent increases, with traffic drastically reduced at present.