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Westcon-Comstor Brexit statement and FAQs

Updated 15 February 2021

On 24 December 2020 a new post-Brexit trade agreement was made between the UK and the EU. Following 18 months of extensive planning and the implementation of changes to our business structure and supporting systems in anticipation of various possible outcomes, from 1 January 2021 our business has been able to continue much as it was before Brexit.

The geographic footprint of Westcon-Comstor in the EU including the presence of major logistics hubs in both the Netherlands and the UK, and our reliance on a single SAP-based operational system equips us well to work within the new arrangements.

While the new arrangements are taking effect, we recognise there may be some issues and delays caused by increased lead times, transit times and processing complexities. In addition, partner feedback has confirmed that there is still confusion about the cost and logistical implications of the new trade agreement, in particular when it comes to shipping goods across the newly created border between the two trading partners post-Brexit.

For Westcon-Comstor, cross-border transactions are nothing new. Armed with many years of international experience and the global expertise of our Global Supply Chain solutions team, we are well placed to help our partners find the best solutions to do business across borders.

At this moment in time, we would like to advise our customers and partners of the following key points.

  • Westcon-Comstor teams are managing quotes and orders based on our optimal supply chain routes. This would see our partners placing all orders onto the UK entity for fulfilment in the UK, and onto the Netherlands entity for distribution requirements into the EU.
  • Following the optimal supply chain model avoids export and import controls, potential cross-border delays and additional duties and levies that may be applied and need for providing an IOR (Importer of Record) service by Westcon or a third party.
  • Any orders that are not following the optimal supply chain outlined may require additional clarifications such as what freight services are needed and who will be acting as the Importer of Record at the end country in the case that there is a trade border.
  • Any orders that haven’t shipped before 1 January 2021 fall under the new legislature and could have additional duties, taxes and licencing requirements that may increase costs or delay deliveries.
  • Any active quotations placed with Westcon-Comstor in the last few months may need to be reviewed by our teams.
  • Based on the information from our carriers we are anticipating potential delays for goods shipped from our UK warehouse to European destinations, as well as from our Netherlands warehouse to UK destinations, for both economy and express services.

With a definitive trade agreement in place we are confident of sustaining our service levels to our customers and vendor partners. As the new agreement is implemented, we will keep you informed on the implications of the new arrangements.


1. How have you prepared for Brexit?

Over the last 18 months, we have prepared ourselves for various possible outcomes of the Brexit negotiations, considering all areas that are likely to be impacted.

As part of our preparations, a new legal entity and supporting IT systems were established in the Netherlands in October 2019. This structure has since been fully utilised, enabling us to optimise our supply chain in Europe for export destinations and instigating a dual export licensing regime with the utilisation of Dutch export licenses. The practical impact is that we have the same export capabilities in both the UK and the Netherlands, and this will allow us to operate effectively under the new trading arrangements. 


2. What are the implications of the new trading arrangements and customs procedures between the UK and EU?

We believe we are advantageously placed having established our two European warehouse locations in the UK and the Netherlands. We are pro-actively balancing stock between the two warehouses and ensuring we have supply chains into both facilities. Direct shipments at the border between the UK and EU into each territory continue to be possible but may be delayed.


3. Are you building up a buffer stock in anticipation of increased lead times and congestion at the border during implementation of the new agreement?

To deal with the potential disruption into our UK warehouse we have increased our inventory levels by up to four weeks across vendors. We continue to monitor manufacturing lead-times to ensure they are up to date. Carrier lead-times are also reviewed by the logistics and purchasing teams which ensure we are anticipating inbound supply times. If necessary, we will adapt our inventory planning based on anticipated demand and lead times.


4. Do you expect further delays in delivery of goods to partners and end customers?

Based on the information from our carriers we are expecting potential delays for goods shipped from our UK warehouse to European destinations, as well as from our Netherlands warehouse to UK destinations, for both economy services (24-48 hours) and express services (up to 24 hours). We continue to work with our freight/carrier partners to minimise customer delays


5. Do you have the necessary customs registrations, resources, experience and ability to maintain a smooth import process?

We have established all the necessary registrations and have the necessary systems in place to support documentation requirements. Furthermore, we have trained resources in-house and with our freight partners and data, necessary to maintain efficient importations.


6. What happens if there is a change in the value of sterling?

As an established international distributor, we have a robust treasury function able to respond, manage and, where appropriate, hedge our exposures. We anticipate that we will have to re-price some quotes for foreign exchange volatility just as we do today in many emerging markets.


7. Will there be an impact on employees or labour availability?

Westcon-Comstor employs approximately 500 staff in the UK and 1,000 staff in mainland Europe across all functions. We have citizens of both jurisdictions working across territories but expect each group to be afforded reciprocal protection. Future movements may be impacted, and we will make appropriate arrangements to ensure continuity of customer service levels as required.


For further information, please contact your Westcon-Comstor representative, or discover what our Global Supply Chain Solutions can do for you.

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