Booker confirmed it has expanded its ranges in Northern Ireland due to changes to post-Brexit trade agreements at the beginning of October.
Minister of State and former Tesco director Baroness Neville-Rolfe claimed in a letter sent on 12 October that: “Significant wholesalers such as Booker have written to customers noting that they are now able to, “bring back some of your favourite products that we had to remove due to the previous Northern Ireland Protocol.”
Asked to confirm the claim and provide details of lines reintroduced, a spokesperson for Booker told Better Retailing: “There are a number of changes in the Windsor framework which have allowed us to increase the range of products available to customers at our Belfast Makro branch.
“For example, our Belfast branch is now able to sell a broader range of catering-format products, which were previously not covered by STAMNI (as this scheme only covered retail products that were packed for end consumers).”
Booker added: “We continue to work with government to implement the Windsor framework and offer our customers in Northern Ireland a fantastic range of products at great prices.”
A new arrangement for the import and export of goods to and from Northern Ireland began on 1 October, known as the Windsor Framework.
Despite, the minister’s claim, stores in the country said they had noticed little change. For instance, Judith Mercer, owner of Hamilton’s Newsagents in Cregagh in County Down said it had been hard to measure the change from the new procedures. “Availability has been very good and credit goes to Spar for working hard to maintain this. There had been Brexit related issues previously with things like cheese and biscuits but it can be hard to determine the reason for supplier outages, though it does seem like some could be due to errors in customs paperwork.”
Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI told RN there had been ‘no substantial issues’ reported so far related to the switch to the Windsor Framework.