Symbol groups have confirmed they are ready to respond quickly to protect availability in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

Retailer concerns rose after leaked government documents from the cabinet secretary, Sir Mark Sedwill, last week warned that leaving the European Union (EU) could result in food prices rising by 10%. 

The House of Lords was scheduled to debate on a report on Brexit and food prices on 4 April, but it was later tabled. 

On the same day in Parliament, Lord Jeffrey Rooker said the rise “is a potentially serious problem” and “you cannot gainsay that – the facts and the evidence are there”. 

However, Costcutter CEO Darcy Willson-Rymer told RN that retailers should not panic.  

“The key thing is to continue to run your business the way you are running it,” he said. “Stay in touch with us and, no matter which way it goes, we’ll give you the advice to get through.”

He also revealed that the symbol group has carried out its own research to ensure it can analyse the potential impact on all areas of its business. 

“As well as having buffer stocks, we have done a piece of work looking at what customers will want to buy if there are shortages,” said Willson-Rymer.

“The important thing is the agility with which we react and give advice to the market, to retailers and consumers.”

Costcutter isn’t alone in its preparations. Ken Towle, CEO of Nisa, also confirmed it is stockpiling goods. “We are stockpiling fast-moving lines using Co-op’s network to help us prepare for Brexit,” he said. 

Guy Swindell, Parfetts’ retail director, added: “We’ve been preparing for Brexit. We always have more stock available.”

As RN went to press, the UK is due to leave the EU on 12 April.

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