Brexit: Iceland supermarket 'not stockpiling' for no deal

Iceland lorry Image copyright AFP/Getty

Iceland supermarket is not stockpiling for a "no-deal" Brexit, its boss has said.

Richard Walker said "no deal" would cause a lot of short-term disruption, but he did not anticipate being unable to restock the chain's stores.

He said a supplier had told him they were stockpiling for two to three weeks in case food imports were disrupted.

But businesses were not able to tie up "loads of cash" on stockpiling months' worth of stock, he added.

"We're certainly not doing this because it might be a waste of time," he said.

Border friction

The head of the Deeside-based chain was asked on the Good Morning Wales programme on BBC Radio Wales if they would have trouble filling their freezers and shelves in event of a no-deal Brexit.

"I don't think so," he said. "A 'no deal' scenario wouldn't be great because there would be friction at the borders, but people forget we're the fifth biggest economy in the world and I've no doubt that in the long term that we'd trade our way through it, but in the short term it would cause a lot of disruption."

Mr Walker expressed his disappointment that Prime Minister Theresa May's withdrawal deal had been voted down by parliament.

"The chances of a delay or a second referendum even are more than they were a week ago. I think that is bad news for business, because the one thing we need so we can forecast forward... is certainty and clarity and we're just not getting that."

There has been concern about the flow of food supplies into the country. In October Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said Tesco was focusing on how to ensure fresh food was not held up at the border in event of a no-deal Brexit, and said the retailer was looking at stockpiling grocery products.

Image copyright Getty Images

Mr Walker was also asked about Iceland's plastic bottle return scheme which has been running at its stores in Mold in Wales, Wolverhampton and Fulham in England and Musselburgh in Scotland, where customers receive a 10p voucher for each bottle.

Customers receive 10p in return for each bottle, but he said until the government adopts a nationwide deposit scheme it would be very difficult to roll out because the "economics don't quite stack up yet".

But he added the scheme had been popular with customers.

"Fulham for example has had 250 bottles returned every day and Wolverhampton is closer to 700 bottles... and it just shows people are very keen to try and do what they can."

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