Brexit, let's try to look on the bright side...
So... after almost three years of uncertainty on the Brexit issue and some very frustrating toing and froing from the UK government, we had to take some decisive action.
First, we saw the British pound plummet against the Euro and the USDolllar. Given that coffee is a commodity product that is traded in USD and Euros, we saw our costs rise by almost 20% over the space of a few months.
Then, our importers decided to close the doors on certain single origins which were deemed too expensive for the UK market. We have a direct trading business model and all our coffees are sourced directly from specific communities involved in reforestation and conservation projects. So when the importers announced that they were no longer buying the coffee we needed from our suppliers, it put us in an incredibly tight spot, as we couldn't just chop and change suppliers. Not if we were to keep the integrity of the product.
For us, the only way forward from this impasse, was to import our coffee directly from our suppliers. So for over 8 months, we have been learning about FOB, CNF and Organic imports and this has given us plenty of headaches. However, the new direct trading model has also allowed us to keep coffee prices affordable given that we have saved on the additional margins made by the traders. So all in all we have offset the fall in the pound with a small saving in middle-man costs.
So the moral of the story is... although right now the UK environment may look really bleak for small businesses, we have to adapt quickly to a changing landscape. Sometimes, when one door closes another one opens, but only if we learn new tricks.