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business success across borders



Business planning. Two words that fill us all with joy. No?

The aftermath of Brexit has presented both unprecedented challenges and unique opportunities for businesses in Britain.

Areas of greatest impact include increased costs, labor and skills issues and supply shortages, with many businesses having to reassess and adapt to thrive in the post-Brexit era.

The effects of 2020

Before January 31, 2020, when Britain officially withdrew from the European Union and the single trading market, there were no borders for trade in goods and services between the United Kingdom and EU countries. Imports and exports were not subject to border controls and restrictions, taxes and duties, or documentation. Now these rules have made exports to European countries more complicated and expensive.

As companies began to adapt to the new trade barriers and the associated costs and operational complexity, there was much to learn. This, combined with the pandemic’s double blow to the global economy, meant momentum was understandably slow. However, as time went on, many companies began to think differently and take advantage of the opportunities presented to them.

For some, it meant facing fewer EU restrictions, accessing new global markets and trading more freely, taking advantage of the new free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand. Others have grown their businesses into more emerging markets such as Latin America, Asia and Africa. Another option for many companies is to expand their physical footprint globally.

Retail: a sector facing change

One sector that was hugely affected by the overall changes brought about in 2020 was retail. Brexit marked a real turning point for this sector. Leaving the EU brought with it a whole new way of doing business that caused many retail brands to suffer, but within a few months of Brexit coming into effect, the pandemic-induced forced lockdowns across Europe meant that the e-commerce rates soared.

Brick-and-mortar brands had little choice but to use e-commerce sales channels to remain open and profitable while meeting changing consumer preferences. For existing e-commerce retailers, sales increased significantly. Those who adapted quickly and were able to meet post-Brexit demands were the ones who were able to thrive.

Analyzing fulfillment and logistics strategies has been imperative for fast-growing retail brands operating in key global markets. But as in any uncharted territory, forming partnerships can facilitate and optimize the process.

For many retailers, it has been difficult to capitalize on the opportunity to grow their brand during a time of uncertainty. It was important to deal with these challenges effectively to scale and thrive in the new environment.

Working together to create success

This sense of partnership and collaboration was key for an iconic brand with ambitious growth plans post-Brexit. Legacy fashion brand Ed Hardy wanted to re-establish itself in the UK and EU but, like many other retailers, faced a range of post-Brexit complexities in serving EU customers from UK centres.

This was further exacerbated by the fact that Ed Hardy had identified areas such as Germany and the Netherlands as key growth markets. The resulting required split between the UK and EU markets meant the brand would have to re-evaluate logistics to avoid higher customs fees, shipping delays and regulatory hurdles that could hinder its reach to vital customer bases in mainland Europe .

We have supported Ed Hardy to overcome the challenges he faced and achieve his goals, through our international expertise and technology-led approach to fulfillment and logistics.

The first area we addressed together was distribution effectiveness. With a fulfillment crowd warehouse in Bocholt, Germany, and a UK base in Otters Brook, South Wales, Ed Hardy was able to avoid Brexit-related trade barriers while reducing costs and shipping faster. Localized distribution centers also allowed the brand to offer a wider range of products, tailored to regional tastes and preferences.

The partnership also provided Ed Hardy with the scalability needed to quickly adapt to changing market demands and consumer trends; crucial in the fast fashion industry, where consumer preferences change abruptly. Specifically, fulfillmentcrowd’s logistics and data analytics tools provided the retail brand with valuable insights into their customers’ behavior and market trends. This data-driven approach enabled more informed decision-making regarding inventory management, product development and marketing strategies.

Ed Hardy is now one of the fastest growing companies in Britain and has its sights set on returning to previous sales levels.


With change comes opportunity. However, by taking action by working together, being more agile and diversifying, companies can respond more easily – and successfully – to it. Both Brexit and the pandemic have upended the business world, but as brands continue to collaborate and adapt, they will be able to not only survive, but thrive in whatever the future of work brings.

Lee Thompson

Lee Thompson is CEO at fulfillmentcrowd, an international provider of fulfillment services and technology.