Tackling Brexit trade issues in Northern Ireland

Laurence Frantzis | 25 May 2021

Since the start of the year, when the post-Brexit trade agreement came into effect, many businesses have had difficulties exporting and importing goods in and out of Northern Ireland.

Checks that are being made on products entering NI from GB and vice-versa are causing huge transportation delays and some product shortages. It’s an issue that continues to dominate the news agenda as business grapple with these challenges.

At NSCG we’ve seen a rush in UK food manufacturers looking to hire trade experts in response to this to deal with the continued difficulties of getting products in and out of Northern Ireland. This sharp increase in demand for experts has led to more poaching from one company to another and pushed up pay and contract rates.

Add to this a pool of available trade and customs experts that is getting smaller and smaller by the week. Businesses still looking to fix issues are racing against the clock in order to get the right personnel in place. As these issues are likely to continue for some months yet, businesses that have yet to source the right experts could quickly find themselves falling behind their rivals.

So, what can businesses do?

Interim solutions
Another solution available to businesses is in the hiring of specialist interims. We’re seeing many businesses take this route and engage with interims with prior experience dealing with trade barriers or customs problems. With a brief to assess how problems and delays could be avoided or lessened, solutions such as amending products to meet EU requirements or finding alternative routes or suppliers have been paving the way for businesses to overcome the current challenges.

Opportunity to retrain
As EU trade and customs issues are still relatively new for most UK businesses, this is an area where employment opportunities are available for those who can reskill or have existing experience. The issue is in retraining people quickly enough to solve all the new trade and supply chain issues in time.

Businesses that want to be ahead of the pack should act now to get the right talent in to ensure their supply chains are sustainable, adaptable and resilient in the post Brexit and Covid-19 era.


Laurence Frantzis is a director at NSCG’s FMCG practice. In a fast-paced evolving sector, there are opportunities to gain a competitive advantage and grow. To learn how we help accelerate performance through leadership & talent solutions, please get in touch.


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