Campagnolo has become the latest EU retailer to stop sales to the UK through its website. A pop-up on the www.campagnolo.com homepage reads:
“E-commerce orders – important. We hereby communicate that all sales with delivery to the UK are suspended until new updates, awaiting for EU dispositions in regards to the Brexit situation. For more information and support, we are at your disposal. Thank you for your understanding.”
Campagnolo apparel, accessories and ‘collectibles’ are sold directly to customers worldwide through its EU website, while in the UK the groupsets and components – as well as the clothing and merchandise – are exported and distributed to the trade through Chicken Cyclekit, which will be operating as usual. Chicken Cyclekit's Josh Lambert moved to reassure Campagnolo dealers in the UK: "The e-commerce products are still available [in the UK] as usual, through our distribution network, and end users can still buy the Campagnolo merchandise from any of our dealers. It is only the direct-to-consumer portal that has a temporary suspension. There is plenty of stock flowing into the UK, both merch and components, and we do not foresee any issues with supply.
"I must reiterate: there is no supply issue of any Campagnolo into the UK."
Campagnolo's Nicolo Ildos told Cycling Weekly: "We stopped the sales (and shipments) to the UK for now mostly because the deal wasn't clear before the Christmas break, which forced us to take the safest position to prevent our customers paying duties on top of the price in one side, and on the other side [for Campagnolo] to maybe get fined as a company because you have to have a legal entity in UK to sell there now. Then, considering the variety of items we sell via our e-store, we might face different duties. So we prefer to get the deal settled, fully understand the impact on our business and on our customers' purchases. We are working hard to service our UK customers as soon as possible."
The Italian brand joins a growing list of sellers suspending direct sales of products to the UK through their European websites. Canyon announced it would do so before Christmas; Brooks England, which is owned by Italian company Selle Royal, is for the time being no longer selling saddles to the UK through its European website (though, like Campagnolo, its UK distribution is unaffected).
BBC Business, in a story titled ‘EU firms refuse UK deliveries over Brexit tax changes’, reported how Netherlands-based Dutch Bike Bits was shipping to every country in the world except the UK and – unlike Canyon, Campagnolo and Brooks – has no plans to reopen its business to British customers under the UK government's new rules for overseas sellers.
In a statement on its website Dutch Bike Bits said this was due to: “…a problem caused by the British government deciding to impose a unique taxation regime which will require every company in the world in every country in the world outside the UK which exports to the UK to apply and collect British taxes on behalf of the British government. For providing this service they [HMRC] intend to charge a fee to every company in the world in every country in the world which exports to the UK.
“Clearly this is ludicrous for one country, but imagine if every country in the world had the same idea. If every country decided to behave in the same way then we would have to pay 195 fees every year, keep up with the changes in taxation law for 195 different countries, keep accounts on behalf of 195 different countries and submit payments to 195 tax offices in 195 different countries, and jump through whatever hoops were required to prove that we were doing all of this honestly and without any error.
“Therefore from mid December 2020 onward we ship to every country in the world... except the UK.
“We have many customers within the UK and would like to be able to trade with them. Not being able to send parcels to the UK does not work in any way in our favour and it is not what we wanted. We are forced by British policy to stop dealing with British customers. If you're angry about this, and you may well be so, please contact your elected representative in the UK.”
Dutch Bike Bits is referring to HMRC’s new rules on VAT which came into force on January 1.
These new rules require overseas ‘online marketplaces’ (OMPs) to register with HMRC in order to pay UK VAT if the sale value is under £135 – with VAT now being collected at the point of sale rather than the point of importation.
The BBC quotes a government spokesman who explains the reason for the new measures: "The new VAT model ensures goods from EU and non-EU countries are treated in the same way and that UK businesses are not disadvantaged by competition from VAT-free imports.
"The new system also addresses the problem of overseas sellers failing to pay the right amount of VAT on sales of goods already in the UK at the point of sale, raising an anticipated £300m every year.
"Many EU businesses which currently sell goods to UK customers will have already registered for UK VAT under existing rules and HMRC is working very closely with those who haven't to ensure they can comply with the changes."
However, it appears that an increasing number of Europe-based retailers, rather than dealing with an extra level of bureaucracy and possible extra costs, are simply stopping selling to the UK altogether, for the time being at least.
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Simon Smythe is Cycling Weekly's senior tech writer and has been in various roles at CW since 2003. His first job was as a sub editor on the magazine following an MA in online journalism (yes, it was just after the dot-com bubble burst).
In his cycling career Simon has mostly focused on time trialling with a national medal, a few open wins and his club's 30-mile record in his palmares. These days he spends a bit more time testing road bikes, or on a tandem doing the school run with his younger son.
What's in the stable? There's a Colnago Master Olympic, a Hotta TT700, an ex-Castorama lo-pro that was ridden in the 1993 Tour de France, a Pinarello Montello, an Independent Fabrication Club Racer, a Shorter fixed winter bike and a renovated Roberts with a modern Campag groupset.
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