Brexit and the Moving sector: where are we now?

Ray Inskip, February 28, 2020

I have spent more than 12 years operating within the global moving field, and throughout this time I have had the pleasure of speaking frequently with removals industry leaders and specialists as part of my current role as Head of Global Moving Services at Alchemy, the sector’s most historic talent and consultancy firm. Of course, in recent years, the number one topic of conversation within moving has been Brexit - the are discussions are continuing as we in the UK embark on what is known as the ‘transitional period’ following leaving the EU. In my blog this month, I am opening the dialogue on what this political shift could mean for the moving industry according to my moving and relocation sector contacts...

It’s not all doom and gloom

Having spoken to some senior peers in the sector, I believe we will see an impact on the removals sector for both businesses and consumers. There is a sense of nervousness from both buyers and sellers within the UK property market at least, due to the uncertainty of the economic situation post Brexit – people don’t want to buy/sell without indication of whether house prices could suddenly rise or fall, let alone interest rates. However, it looks like there is continued potential for an upturn in business for European and International Moving with both corporate and private migrants making big geographical moves off the back of Brexit. Corporate clients are moving to find new premises with new potential trade deals, along with the prospect of immigration law changes for private individuals.

What are the negatives?

A significant benefit of being part of the EU meant that the UK had a free trade tariff agreement. This was advantageous for moving companies as there was less to be concerned with operating across the continent – businesses were able to operate within a familiar standard, unconcerned with any special restrictions on specific goods as the UK would have EU member guarantees across the board. Having left the EU, the UK will need to renegotiate trade deals with 27 separate countries before the end of the year. This could cause some disruption and depending on how negotiations go, they may not necessarily fall in favour of UK based removals companies when delivering their services to Europe.

What are the positives?

From what I can tell, with hopefully improved global trade agreements and a more selective immigration process, Brexit could have a positive effect on the British job market. This will be due to a larger amount of job vacancies becoming available and increased demand for HHG removals. It could enable people in Britain to move greater distances domestically as they attempt to improve their careers and start a new life in a different location. If Brexit increases talent demands across industries, we may see an influx of skilled professionals looking to relocate into the country or individuals with concern about residency status moving out... In any case, these changes represent potential business opportunities for savvy movers.

Mood across the market

When speaking with moving businesses, I have not picked up on any feelings of deep concern, a lot of the professionals I have spoken to are prepared to batten down the hatches as and when any difficulties come their way. There is a mood of spirited preparedness as movers prepare for the full force of Brexit outcomes via economic research, with business developers hot on the tracks of the opportunities that rise from the ashes of change. It seems that most moving company leaders are taking steps to protect their businesses by keeping close tabs with freight forwarding contacts on any significant changes and speaking closely with removals trade associations.

Putting plans in place

From what I hear, there is an underlying belief across the global moving sector that when the UK does finally and completely leave the EU, that there will be more customs clearances to do and more expertise required... This might increase demand for movers with international capabilities, however, there may also be delays in ports and airports as the industry settles back down to normality and household goods will take longer to process as a result of potential new laws and uncertainty, so movers are researching all modes of transport and various suppliers to build an accurate picture of efficiency versus cost and to gain an understanding of all options on the table.

A New Hope

The majority of Brits are now in a position to accept that Brexit is happening, regardless of being a 'Leaver or a Remainer'... Therefore we may as well try to look on the bright side with a stiff upper lip! I believe Brexit will ultimately have a positive effect on the moving industry assuming the trade agreements go well with Europe (something I will be keeping a close eye on along with the rest of the sector). It is possible that the movers in the UK will have more autonomy with what decisions they make (in the UK at least) as they will not be regulated by the European Union. But frankly, nobody knows for certain how Brexit will affect removals in the long term until we get there, but in my opinion, I’m hoping for a bright future for the industry, optimism is the way forward! Check back in with Alchemy for all the latest news and industry developments.

Written by Ray Inskip - Head of Global Moving Services at Alchemy Global Talent

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