Campagnolo has paused some direct sales to the UK due to Brexit

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Questions and concerns regarding the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union has resulted in a world of chaos and confusion in regards to trade and commercial shipments, and the cycling industry has hardly been spared. Rose Bikes has stopped selling to the UK entirely, Canyon Bicycles has “temporarily paused” shipments, online retailer Dutch Bike Bits has pulled out of the UK market as well, and now Campagnolo has joined the ranks of companies that have — at least for now — ceased doing business with the United Kingdom.

“We stopped — for now — just the e-commerce sales,” said Campagnolo marketing manager Nicolò Ildos. “This means merchandising and apparel since groupset and wheels are not sold on the Campagnolo e-store. Our UK distributor is fully servicing the UK market with no issue, while our merchandising and apparel are available in some selected UK shops, too.

“We stopped direct sales since the deal wasn’t clear and everything was happening over Christmas time, so we took the safest choice to avoid our online customer to be in the position to pay duties or face customs trouble,” Ildos continued. “We are working to re-list the UK among our e-store countries.”

The pop-up message on Campagnolo’s web site sounds dire, but the reality of the situation isn’t as bad as it might seem.

At issue is the new taxation protocol that went into effect January 1, 2021, whereby online retailers are now supposed to collect appropriate taxes for UK shipments when items are sold. 

“Unfortunately, we will not be able to send parcels to the UK from mid-December 2020 onward,” read a statement from Dutch Bike Bits. “Quite apart from the uncertainty surrounding the shipping cost, taxation, etc. after that time, there is also 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 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 decide to behave in the same way then we would have to pay 195 fees every year, keep up with the changes in the taxation law for 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.”

While Campagnolo’s announcement sounds dire, the move really only affects Campagnolo product that is solely offered through the company’s web site, not items that are normally available through UK distributors. Photo: Campagnolo

Light at the end of the tunnel

What’s particularly alarming about these recent developments is that the situation regarding import sales to the UK is apparently so off-putting that companies are clearly deciding that it’s easier to simply abandon that market altogether instead of adapting to the new reality. 

However, given the size of the UK market (it’s valued at roughly £2.2 billion annually), it seems unlikely that this trend will get dramatically worse before something is figured out. After all, while the decisions of Rose Bikes and Dutch Bike Bits sound rather permanent, the former situation has deeper roots related to regional brake setups, not Brexit. 

Rose had already announced a while ago that it was no longer selling bikes to the UK market, but it had more to do with brake setup than Brexit.

£2.2 billion isn’t exactly a drop in the bucket, and since a substantial portion of that figure originates from outside of the UK, there will surely be some sort of solution. When exactly that comes about is anyone’s guess given how chaotic Brexit has been to date. In the meantime, if you’re in the UK, this means no corkscrews for you.

Are you located in the UK and affected by these recent changes? Feel free to tell us about your experiences in the comments section below. 

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