The next days will be decisive for the future relations between the U.K. and the European Union. The picture is evolving rapidly, with the British Parliament scheduled to try to find a consenus tomorrow on the terms of the country's withdrawal before a new deadline of April 12 set by the EU for a final proposal. The latest proposal presented by the government of Theresa May was rejected by the House of Commons on Friday by 344 votes against 286. The alternatives include a further extension of the negotiating process and a call for a new general election or a second referendum.

Meanwhile, many foreign companies in the outdoor sector and others have been gearing themselves up for all kinds of possible scenarios including a “hard Brexit,” which has become more likely than before as no deal has been reached prior to the previously set deadline of March 29.

In particular, importers and exporters have been working on building up new warehousing capacities for products entering the U.K. and for products that were previously entering the EU via the U.K. 

For example, Timberland and other companies have reportedly signed agreements in principle to use a bonded warehouse near Luton airport for goods imported into the country via UPS, which would be taking care of customs clearance and other related paperwork.

As we have previously reported, Osprey Packs Europe, which is based in the U.K., contracted a third-party warehouse in the Netherlands even before the pro-Brexit vote in June 2016 to better service its European clients (Compass Vol. 9 N° 13+14 of July 7, 2016). As reported a few days ago in, Mountain Equipment has rented space in a warehouse at Eurasburg, near Munich, for all the products that it gets manufactured in Eastern Europe and the Far East.

Anyhow, logistical delays and higher customs-related costs would be inevitable in case of a break-up with the EU, in addition to the departure from the U.K. of many foreigners employed in design, logistics and the retail sector.

A hard Brexit with a short-notice announcement will likely cause a lot of chaos at border points. To help avoid the confusion and higher import duties at some point, several British importers have been stocking extra merchandise in the last few weeks.