Leaving the EU - A small independent bike retailer's view


We've been trading for quite a long time now.  Just over eleven years in fact! 

When we first launched BEG Bicycles, it was critical to us (and this is rather a worn phrase now!) to work with other independent, family firms where quality and practicality were paramount.  We tried, wherever possible, to support British firms so our picnic blankets were sourced - and are to this day - from Wales and Ireland, our baskets from Somerset, our picnic blanket straps from Cumbria and our bicycle basket straps from just up the road in Northants. Whilst not British, our beautiful bicycles are built to order in a tiny lowlands village in Belgium, not too dissimilar from our own village here in fenland Cambridgeshire (the two land masses were once (a VERY long time ago) conjoined of course!) so just a stone's skim over the channel.  

Provenance really matters to us, but most importantly, so does working with really good people who really care about the wares they produce for us. Where we couldn't buy locally, we turned to European partners, many of which we have worked with now for more than a decade, including our helmets suppliers in Paris and the wonderful company that make our leather picnic ware in Spain.

In retrospect, we are very glad that we did take where are products originate from seriously.   Brexit and leaving the EU single market has been, and it is no understatement, massively challenging for us and many small businesses here in the UK and throughout Europe who import/export to and from Europe.  Terms that have been banded around like 'Free Trade Agreement' and 'trade deals' have undoubtedly made it seem to onlookers like relatively plain sailing, but reality is that the establishment of borders between us and the EU countries has enormous implications in terms of cost and paperwork and is extraordinarily complicated. We have found it difficult to find accurate advice and answers and have spent many many hours trying to fathom out how to make it all work and 'do the right thing'.

One of the biggest issues as a small retailer, aside from the extra time it takes, is the cost. With import tariffs and then administration charges, it is, and I speak as someone who has really looked into this, IMPOSSIBLE to maintain prices as pre-01 January 2021.   We have found that we simply will not be able to sell some of our customer's favourite and long-established products sourced in Europe at a reasonable price any more.  We will of course, do our utmost to stock up with alternatives, but some of our collection, which we have nurtured and spent a lot of time on over the years simply will not be tenable.  We're actually pretty fed up about this.  Did the British people, when they cast their spurious vote to leave, really understand the implications leaving the EU would bring to a nation of small business owners, but more importantly to each and every single Brit who will now have to pay more for anything brought across that 22 mile stretch of water, not to mention the phenomenal amount of red tape and paperwork involved which could be spent on far more useful pursuits. We doubt it. 

We will endeavour wherever we possibly can to keep our prices as low as possible.  We're lucky in that many of our products are our own BEG Bicycles designs, sold only by ourselves, and as such we are not competing with the mass market. Some of our range will go, but we hope to find exciting new products for cyclists that are not only practical, but well designed, stylish and of excellent quality.

We will sadly have to increase the shipping charge to cover the additional cost of the freight forwarders administration charges (to enable the bikes to clear customs), something we didn't have to pay previously.  We actually haven't increased our shipping costs since 2012, so we think they are probably more in keeping with other hand built bicycle importers now anyway.  The new price to deliver a bicycle directly from the workshop in Belgium to you will be now be 95.00. 

We hope you'll stay with us for the ride, continue to enjoy our products and hope to see you soon!

The team at BEG Bicycles