THE NORTHHORNER ENGLAND FREIGHT FORWARDER M + F EXPECTS LONG NEGOTIATIONS ABOUT THE “BREXIT” – AND MORE WORK.
The British exit from the EU will make goods traffic with the British Isles expensive and more complicated, but it can also offer a new opportunity. That is what M+F-Spedition is assuming. The Nordhorn-based company makes more than a quarter of its turnover with transports to England.
By Rolf Masselink
NORDHORN. Every day, six to eight lorries roll out of the yard of the Nordhorn-based M+F-Spedition towards Great Britain. While at the end of the 1970s they were still transporting mainly textiles to the British Isle, today toys and cosmetics, stationery and textiles and other consumer goods of all kinds are delivered to the United Kingdom as consolidated shipments.
Since its foundation in 1978, M+F-Spedition has been a specialist in the UK business. In the early years, this was the company’s main business. Today it still accounts for a good 27 percent of turnover. The M+F trucks not only supply companies in the Greater London area, but also head for destinations on the English east coast and in central England. “Great Britain is a consumer market. We deliver much more goods there than from there back to the mainland,” says M+F managing director Çetin Çelik.
What impact will the announced “Brexit” have on this UK business? “Initially, there was a lot of uncertainty. We even had some enquiries from British customers about a branch on the mainland,” reports Manfred Köhler, Managing Director of the M+F umbrella company Hüttemann Group. The collapse of the British pound after the Brexit announcement also had an impact. But this “dip” has long since been made up for. Day-to-day business is running normally. The uncertainty has given way to a critical wait-and-see attitude.
Manfred Köhler is not the only one who knows that the British have “not done themselves any favours” with their decision to turn their backs on the EU. Most British business partners also see the “Brexit” as a mistake, he says. Britain is the third largest consumer market in Europe. The country is dependent on imports, and half of the imports come from EU countries. Köhler: “Hardly anything will change in these flows of goods.” They will only become more expensive if Britain actually leaves the EU in a “hard Brexit”.
“If that happens, then we will just write customs applications again.” Then it will be more expensive and more complicated to deliver goods to England. But deliveries will continue to take place, as they do with goods traffic with Switzerland.
Perhaps it is precisely this future customs burden that will open up new opportunities. Companies that can handle these formalities quickly and reliably will be in demand. And they might even need additional workers.
The big questions: When will Brexit happen? What will it look like? What happens then? Köhler and Çelik are relaxed. First of all, there will certainly be long negotiations about the Brexit. Köhler and Çelik suspect that the two-year negotiation period will hardly be enough. “In the end, time will run out and something hectic will be decided,” says Manfred Köhler. No one can predict today whether Prime Minister Theresa May and her government will still be in office.
People on the British Isle itself are obviously more worried than in Nordhorn. “Many of our business partners are unsettled. For example, they don’t know what Brexit means for their foreign employees,” reports Köhler.
So far, they also have no answer to the question of what effects the “Brexit” will have on goods traffic with Ireland. M+F also delivers there regularly – so far exclusively via the UK. Will the United Kingdom then become a transit country for such transports? Or will fiscal hurdles be erected there that force direct transport to Ireland?
“People are already considering possible scenarios,” says Köhler. “But we will face the new challenges when the time comes.”
From textile forwarder to transport and logistics service provider in 40 years
Nordhorn-based M+F-Spedition has been part of the Duisburg-based Hüttemann Group since 1989. The forwarding company was founded in 1978 with a focus on transporting textiles to Great Britain. Today, M+F is still considered the England specialist in the Hüttemann Group. Up to ten departures a day leave Nordhorn for the islands. Whether part or full loads, general cargo or parcel shipments – M+F-Spedition offers the entire spectrum. M+F has a combined 42,000 square metres of operating space in Nordhorn and Gildehaus and employs 115 people. The company reports an annual turnover of 23 million euros for 2016. The UK business accounts for a good 27 percent of this, the rest of the international forwarding business for 40 percent. Ten per cent of the turnover is generated with national transports, a good 30 per cent with logistics services, especially with toys.
The umbrella company Hüttemann-Holding employs a total of 715 people in its various subsidiaries and has 21 of its own network and logistics locations in Europe.