The founder of a Scottish dog food business has told how Brexit forced him to move to France after his exports to the EU were halted because of the new trade barriers in place since 1 January.
After 10 weeks of daily calls and emails to government representatives, who he said were “absolutely terrible”, Antoon Murphy said he was left with no other option than to relocate or face losing the business.
“The trade deal they agreed at Christmas is very close to as good as no deal,” he said.
He set up Antos dog chew company in Ayrshire in 2005 and has grown it into a business with 19 staff and a turnover of more than £8m.
About 60% of his sales were dog chews made from deer antlers, a sustainable and safer alternative to the bones popular in the UK and across the EU.
He told of being hit by a double Brexit whammy with new documentation needed to certify his products comply with EU food health and safety standards and a haulage industry that would not touch food exports from smaller businesses such as his.
He hit the first wall in January when he discovered the chews and other treats were classed as animal feed and each dispatch needed a health certificate.
Not only was it a £200 extra cost for each order, whether the consignment was worth £40,000 or £500, but the precise health certificate did not exist for antler chews and any other of his unusual products.
“Our products are quite niche and there is no specific health certificate for them,” he said. “It took us about 10 weeks of daily calls and emails with the Animal Health Agency to finally get somewhere in obtaining export health certificates for our products. They were absolutely terrible.”