JUNE 2016

Shadow of Brexit hangs over annual lunch

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There are still too many unanswered questions on both sides of the Brexit debate, according to Malcolm Johnstone, Managing Director of food logistics specialist ACS&T and President of the Food Storage & Distribution Federation.

He told the FSDF’s annual lunch that Brexit had made it infinitely difficult for the Federation to plan for the future.

“What does it mean for our industry? How do we interpret the challenges of whether we are staying in or out,” he said.

He pointed out that the impact of Europe upon the food supply chain had been significant.
“The desire to create a common trading platform for all member countries has introduced a raft of legislation to maintain equality and a level playing field.

“But to what effect?”

He cited European generated issues such as European Drivers’ hours, Driver CPCs, the Working Time Directive, Manager CPCs and other regulations that Federation members had to accommodate to comply with legislation.

“But has it delivered a distribution industry which is at the forefront when it comes to employee wages, roadside facilities and well run, profitable companies?

“Look at the registration plates. I challenge you to point out many refrigerated hauliers which are British companies.

“There are some at this conference who have exited from transport activities and passed their fleets and business to continental counterparts,” he said.

In his opinion, the future for refrigerated transport in the UK looked worrying.
Politicians and economists would claim it is the market at work – low cost is their mantra.

“But with the UK being a net importer, with every European vehicle that arrives with imported food, is a vehicle with belly tanks of cheaper diesel, lower wages costs, minimal tax contribution to the cost of infrastructure, which looks for work in a broken system of cabotage, with minimal enforcement through lack of enforcement officers, thereby undercutting a UK company and reducing tax revenue.”

He pledged that the Federation would continue to work with the authorities in Brussels to maintain the FSDF’s leading voice in refrigerated matters within Europe, no matter what trading relationship existed after June 23.

At the AGM held at Headingley, the Carnegie Stadium, he also reported that the FSDF had seen continued growth in membership in the previous financial year and strong financials with a positive swing of £100,000 to deliver a return to profit of £22,000.

Mr Johnstone - who was elected to his second term as president of the FSDF in January last year - has worked in the logistics sector for 40 years and as MD of ACS&T Logistics for the past eight years.  He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport.

He thanked the FSDF secretariat based at Reading which had supported him so ably in his two terms as president over five years.


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