Suffolk Skincare Brand Rises to Brexit Challenge

Suffolk-based independent family-run business, SBC Skincare, proudly reached its 30-year anniversary in 2020, in what was a challenging year for most businesses.

Established as a global brand, SBC manufactures then sends large shipments of face and body care products, along with hand wash, sanitisers and creams, to customers based throughout Europe and beyond. And, as with all companies trading with the EU, Brexit required plenty of planning, so a small team of individuals were tasked with overseeing the transition.

Following Britain’s exit from the EU on January 1st, the team, based in Needham Market and Stowmarket, worked hard to ensure shopping channel QVC in Germany and Italy, still received their orders on time. Knowing that changes to paperwork were needed but faced with conflicting information from a variety of sources, meant things were far from straightforward.

December was incredibly busy, with time spent checking guidance, reading information on the Government website, talking to specialists, and attending webinars.

SBC wasn’t alone in trying to work out how to keep things moving seamlessly, freight companies were also unable to quote or commit to bookings for 2021. This meant that SBC couldn’t arrange movement of their goods, prior to the Christmas break.

Investigations showed that the biggest problem wasn’t going to be the duty or the physical freight, it was the VAT implication, and a tax specialist was needed. With professional expertise found, the process was nailed down and the business started to pull the many, complex, strands together.

The first weeks of January have been very busy, however with more factors and issues now understood, it has been easier to plan.

What has quickly become obvious, is that SBC couldn’t continue to trade with their European customers under past terms. Not only did all the paperwork have to be updated to ship the goods, but contracts had to be changed too; all with large, existing, orders already in place and deadlines to meet.

Perseverance and determination paid off though. With all documentation being put into place, the first three lorries of skincare favourites left Suffolk and safely arrived with QVC in Germany the third week of January.

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