Pets at Home considers stockpiling inventory ahead of Brexit

British pet supplies retailer Pets at Home is looking into whether to stockpile products as the UK moves closer to the Brexit deadline without a withdrawal deal. 

In a trading update, the group said it “may consider” buying £8m worth of extra stock “as we approach our financial year end and monitor the Brexit process”. 

Pets also reported like-for-like sales growth of 5.1 per cent in the 12 weeks to January 3, compared with the same period a year earlier. 

The group’s statement that it will build its inventory earlier than usual comes as Brexit-related stockpiling has increased the cost of storing goods in UK warehouses. Retailers and manufacturers are guarding against the possibility of a no-deal outcome that could cause gridlock at ports and chaos in cross-border trade.

Such nervousness among businesses has been heightened in recent weeks after parliament overwhelmingly rejected an EU withdrawal plan put forward by prime minister Theresa May, who is now on a collision course with MPs after she refused to compromise on key elements of her plan. Under the Article 50 legislation triggered almost two years ago, Britain is set to leave the EU on March 29. 

The CBI, Britain’s biggest business lobby group, has warned that a no-deal Brexit “cannot be managed” and would have a huge negative impact on companies and the economy.

Economists are not forecasting a recession if Britain leaves with no deal, because the EU is prepared to mitigate the effects temporarily. The costs of doing business will rise, however, it is forecast, with tariffs at the UK-EU border, significant non-tariff barriers on goods and new restrictions on trade in services.

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