Wednesday 22 September 2021 3:45 pm

Brexit cancels bonfire night: Import rules reduce UK firework supply by 70 per cent

The UK is receiving just 30 per cent of the fireworks stock that suppliers usually have for the year, City A.M. has been told today.

In fact, there won’t be enough fireworks for the usual Bonfire Night celebrations, and as the date approaches, low supply will increase prices for consumers, according to Doncaster-based supplier Fireworks Kingdom.

The firm said this morning that three reasons related to Brexit cause these shortages in the UK.

Imports from China

Firstly, importing from countries such as China, the main supplier of fireworks globally, requires the cooperation of the EU member state, where these container ships dock on the way to the UK.

Belgium, for example, charges extra for any explosives sent via their ports because they don’t want involvement with UK civil explosives.

Also, prior to Brexit enforcement, the UK could attribute a code to the manufacturing site in China to identify and trace the explosives.

However, now the UK is no longer within the EU, importers require the national authority of the EU Member State of import to allow that code to be sent to the manufacturing site. So shipments from China arriving in the UK are dependent upon the cooperation of an EU Member State.

 “Importing fireworks has become very difficult and unstable in the wake of Brexit. Our industry is being hit particularly hard, receiving just 30 per cent of the usual annual supply,” said Richard Hogg of Fireworks Kingdom today.

“It’s gutting to see the shelves empty at stores across the UK when we’d usually be preparing for our busiest season. While we do have some stock, other stores haven’t been so fortunate. We’ve recently received 30 calls in a day from other fireworks stores, asking if we have any stock that can be sent over,” Hogg told City A.M. this morning.

“Shipping companies are now asking for a £5,000 deposit per container, in case the EU member state denies our application to import from China via one of their ports, despite this route being a key way that many UK companies import,” he added.

“On top of shipping costs, we’re now looking at around £30,000 – £50,000 to import a container of fireworks – if we can secure a container in the first place.”

Labour shortages

Secondly, fireworks face the same issues with UK ports and domestic transport that any other goods face, caused by Brexit labour shortages.

Many EU workers have returned to mainland Europe, and others haven’t had their work visas renewed, causing mass labour shortages in the UK supply chain.

“We hope that the supply of fireworks will meet demand in time for New Year and 2022, but Bonfire Night this year will have just 30 per cent of the usual supply,” Hogg sighed.

“Ultimately, the increase in importing costs and reduced supply due to Brexit has started to increase the cost of celebrations for the consumer,” he said.

Long shelf life

Finally, fireworks are impacted more by Brexit than other imports, as they have a long shelf life when stored correctly, so wholesalers don’t want to take the risk of stocking up on CE marked goods when they can’t be sold past the end of 2022.

This has caused shortages of these products in the UK, and will continue to do so until 2023, with UK importers debating between stocking CE goods that may not be legal to sell before expiry, or UKCA goods that require additional costs and administrative time to import.

Most industries can still safely place CE marked goods onto the UK market until 1 January 2023, when they must transition to UKCA markings, but importers of civil explosives are weighing up this transition before other industries, due to the long life of fireworks in wholesale storage.

So fireworks importers are suffering the implications of Brexit regulations and complexities that other supply chains won’t face until 2023.