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  • We're outside a brand new warehouse belonging to American logistics firm, PFS

  • in the English city of Southampton.

  • This place has been opened for one word and one reason - Brexit.

  • Businesses across Britain are battling a stubbornly uncertain Brexit future,

  • with well-known names ready to shut down their U.K. facilities or shift jobs overseas.

  • But this e-commerce firm has chosen a different route.

  • You're looking to expand in the next few weeks?

  • Absolutely.

  • What we see now is not the full picture.

  • It will not be all of it, no.

  • Lisa Cooley left Memphis, Tennessee late last year

  • to open this new fulfillment center in the port city of Southampton.

  • She's barely gotten her feet under the table, but Brexit's March 29 deadline is already demanding her attention.

  • It's a task, trying to start something up in that span of time.

  • And it's also a task trying to get inventory moved and imported here and

  • set up and you have processes you have to build around that.

  • I believe it's a little chaotic in the beginning but, at the end, our goal is to service our client.

  • Her company employs thousands of workers worldwide and those clients are as global as their consumers.

  • Until recently, PFS had only one major European warehouse in Belgium,

  • just an hour outside Brussels where U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has traveled again and again

  • to try and salvage her divorce deal with the EU.

  • Regardless of how well or badly Brexit negotiations go in the coming weeks,

  • it's clear that many sectors seeking to do business here in Britain have already made significant changes,

  • and this warehouse is one big example.

  • Logistics can be relentless and companies like PFS cannot wait on the politicians

  • while they wrap, pack and ship people's parcels.

  • Opening a new fulfillment center, it's not an easy task. There's timelines.

  • It takes time to get equipment, it takes time to get your systems up and going.

  • Of course you have to go through the process of hiring employees

  • and time, I wouldn't necessarily say is on the side of the retailers we service.

  • It's not just time, is it? It's money, right?

  • So you guys are spending money on building a facility like this, hiring people here in the U.K.

  • Does that, in your view, get passed on to someone in the end?

  • Yeah, I think essentially it goes to the consumer at the end, right?

  • With five weeks to go, if it's a no deal, there would be for them an initial cost increase as they up their capacity

  • to enable traders that do business with EU companies to work as if they were doing trade

  • with the rest of the world today, and those costs have already been incurred as a contingency measure.

  • Brexit may have shattered British politics, but the economy has so far survived

  • with unemployment at its lowest level in generations.

  • I think in the long run it's more the uncertainty of not know which direction you're going to proceed,

  • I think that's the biggest concern and the biggest challenge here.

  • And as firms make preparations, and banks book provisions,

  • those Brexit concerns are now big enough to fill a building.

We're outside a brand new warehouse belonging to American logistics firm, PFS

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This warehouse has opened for one reason only - Brexit | CNBC Reports

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    Summer posted on 2020/12/31
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