Archway company that imports high end food from Italy speaks about Brexit struggles

The Peregrine Trading team. Picture: Sean Pines

The Peregrine Trading team. Picture: Sean Pines - Credit: Archant

The owner of an Archway company importing food from Italy claims the devaluation of the pound since the Brexit referendum has been a huge challenge for his business.

Peregrine Trading is importing high end Italian food products, such as olive oil, pasta, sauces, from the EU.

"I need a weak Euro, and I need a strong UK economy to be successful," said owner David Harrison.

The pound reached its lowest level in three years last September. A strong Sterling means lower import costs for retailers, which can sell their products for a cheaper price to their UK customers.

Currency weakness is not the only issue that Peregrine Trading has faced. Harrison said his company had to carry extra stocks last spring with the risk of a hard Brexit, because he feared that there would be a few weeks of disruptions with his Italian suppliers.

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According to the Federation of Small Businesses, 31% of small businesses stockpiled ahead of the initial Brexit deadline of October 31.

However, David Harrison claims Peregrine Trading's exports to America have proved to be a lifesaver since the Brexit announcement.

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"This is really what has helped us in the last few years. Whilst the pound has been weak against the Euro, the Dollar has been strong. The weakness of a currency has been offset by the strength of another," he says.

With the uncertainty of the post-Brexit arrangements, but also as a part of a wider business development plan, Peregrine is striving to grow its international presence. After the USA and the Middle East, David Harrison is considering entering the Chinese market.

"As a company, we are driven by growth and we are trying to grow our earnings by 5% to 10%. I have been looking at different markets, and obviously China is a very interesting, but also complicated market. I still have to find the appropriate partner," he says.

The possibility of a trade deal between the UK and China has been tackled several times since the EU Referendum, although UK's exports to China are only £22bn, or 3.5%.

Increasing the online presence of his company is also one of David Harrison's plan to widen his business despite the Brexit turmoil.

"Nobody really understand exactly how this is going to play out. All we know at the moment is that we will have a year of posturing from various politicians as they wrangle over the arrangements," concludes Harrison.

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