Although the UK has already left the EU, the transition period has meant that for many businesses, things have remained the same so far. However, in January 2021, this transition period will end, and new rules will come into force. As a business owner, it is vital that you are aware of what these changes will mean to your business and those that supply your company.
Here are some of the changes that we can expect for the catering equipment sector post-Brexit.
One of the things that will affect your business as well as your suppliers is the change to the CE mark. The CE mark signifying European Conformity is shown on goods that are placed on the market in Great Britain, but from January 2021, this will be changed to the UK Conformity Assessment (UKCA) mark.
Requirements needed to attain the new UKCA mark will be virtually the same as with the current CE mark. However, as a business owner, you will need to ensure that you are looking for this new mark on the products you buy.
To make the transition to the UKCA mark easier, manufacturers can use the existing CE mark until January 2022. This means you may see both types of mark on the equipment you buy until that time.
Buying Equipment From the EU
If you have previously purchased equipment from a company in one of the EU countries, then you will need to ensure that they are still allowed to sell in the UK after January. They will need to start making preparations for the new UKCA certification and shipping. Check with them in advance to see how they are preparing for the changes.
Along with the new certification, you may also find that there may be additional fees that you will need to pay when you buy their equipment or products. This is why it is a good idea to start contacting your overseas suppliers early so that any issues can be discussed in advance.
Depending on the company, and the cost of any additional fees, some companies may find that it is easier to switch to a UK-based supplier instead. Most UK manufacturers are already working to ensure that their customers are not affected by the change.
Catering Equipment Manufacturers
Manufacturers of catering equipment both in the UK and the EU have been looking at ways they can support their customers. In some cases, they have been manufacturing equipment that has been stockpiled in warehouses in the UK. This will allow customers to still buy equipment without delay even when the rules change.
Many UK manufacturers source some of their components from other countries such as those in the EU. This means that from January 2021, some of these components may be harder to find or cost more. To try and prevent any shortage, companies have been stockpiling components as well. This will then give them time to work out new arrangements, while still being able to manufacture new equipment and honouring equipment servicing and breakdown cover.
Together with agreeing to new arrangements with EU countries, manufacturers have also been looking at other countries outside the EU. This may allow them to find similar suppliers that are already set up to trade with the UK.
What is the Impact on Customers?
With the measures that manufacturers and suppliers are setting up, there will hopefully be little or no impact on you as a customer. If you are looking to buy new equipment, then there should be sufficient stock available.
There may be a small delay in some situations due to the expected increase in paperwork and changes to shipping regulations. However, your suppliers should have a good estimate of how long this will take.
When dealing with repairs to your existing equipment, the situation should be the same as usual. Because spare parts are being stockpiled, there shouldn’t be any delays in getting your equipment fixed. It is, however, a good idea to check with the manufacturer to ensure that all the spare parts will be available.
What Can Business Owner's do?
As a business owner, this will already be a stressful time, so you need to make sure that you are doing all you can in preparation.
Check Your Catering Equipment
Regular checks should already be taking place on your kitchen catering equipment. But additional checks are also a good idea to assess the condition and functionality. If you feel that a piece of equipment needs replacing soon, then you should start looking for a replacement as soon as possible. This will allow you time to get the replacement before your existing unit fails.
Continue Regular Maintenance
Keeping a regular maintenance schedule of your catering equipment is the best way to keep it working correctly and extending its lifespan. Ensure that your employees are aware of the maintenance schedules, and are adhering to them. It is important that staff report any defect or fault quickly so that repairs can be carried out.
Do Your Research
Being prepared is one of the best ways that you can keep on top of the changes. Try to find all the information you can on what the new rules will be, and how they will affect your business. It is also a good idea to reach out to your suppliers and manufacturers to see what they are putting in place to support you. It may be that you need to change the way you do things, so being ready when the time comes will save a lot of stress and wasted time.
Post-Brexit changes will be a learning curve for both business owner's and manufacturers, so the more planning and preparation you can do now, the easier it will be in the future.