British cheesemaker sells company to overcome Brexit barriers

After Brexit and leaving the EU marketplace, many UK firms were faced with financial problems.

British cheesemaker Simon Spurrell is one of them.

He is the managing director of the Macclesfield-based Cheshire Cheese Company, founded in 2010.

In 2021, the first year of Brexit-related business operations, Spurrell says the Cheshire Cheese Company lost £240,000 in wholesale and consumer business in Europe, and expects another £350,000 to be lost this year.

Faced with this situation, he had to sell his business to a larger company in order to regain access to EU customers after Brexit left him with an estimated £600,000 black hole in lost EU sales.

The company's new owner, Joseph Heler Cheese, is a family-owned producer in northwest England which has maintained its presence in the European market through its larger operations and distribution center in the Netherlands.

AP Photo
Cheshire Cheese Company's products and firms's administrators. - AP Photo

"What's actually left us in a situation that we no longer have access to the EU meant that we needed to try and find a solution and luckily for us, our near neighbours and our good friends in the same county of Cheshire, bigger than us, reached out," says Spurrell.

"Joseph Heler is the name of the business, they are third generation of cheesemakers. They reached out, put their hand around the shoulder and said: 'We can help you'."

Simon Spurrell, managing director of Cheshire Cheese Company. - AFP

Spurrell indicates that this action made them access the EU market and saved their company.

"This has been a quite an uplifting change in our situation," he says. "We now have a majority shareholder owner in Joseph Heler, which means we not only have access to the EU again, due to their Netherlands hub - we also have the ability to grow again, we have the ability to actually reach the ambitions that we were unable to do due to the Brexit deal going in place and wiping out a large amount of our potential revenue."

Spurrell will remain managing director of Cheshire Cheese Company and retain a stake in the business.

As for George Heler, group managing director of Joseph Heler Cheese, he remains pragmatic.

"Once the country decided that they wanted to leave the EU, I very much took the attitude that we just need to get on with it," says Heler.

"Unfortunately, for smaller businesses, that's been a big, big challenge, but we've managed to kind of tackle it head on. We've had to invest in terms of foreign entities and logistics networks, but we've just got to get on with it now and we've got to make the best of a bad or a difficult situation."

Joseph Heler,cheese company, with the help of their hub in Nederlands, has saved the business in EU market. - AFP

The UK's formal departure from the European Union took place in January 2021.

Finance minister Jeremy Hunt presented his budget in parliament today, Thursday 17 November, a day after inflation figures jumped to a 41-year high on soaring energy and food bills.

Bank of England officials warned on that Brexit was hurting the UK economy, citing a disproportionate effect on trade.