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British Retail Consortium

UK retail issues food security ‘no deal’ Brexit warning

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Sainsbury’s, Asda, Waitrose and M&S are among UK retailers to have warned about the devastating impact a so-called ‘no deal’ Brexit will have on food security and supply in the UK.

In an open letter to MPs, send by the British Retail Consortium trade body, the CEOs of the country’s biggest food retailers called on the government to do everything it can to prevent the cliff-edge scenario from occurring.

The letter, which was also signed by eateries KFC, McDonald’s and Pret A Manger, said that food stocks will experience shortages and that sufficient storage at ports and in warehouses simply wasn’t available for stockpiling given the just in time methods employed on most food imports.

The letters reads: “Our supply chains are closely linked to Europe – nearly one third of the food we eat in the UK comes from the EU. In March the situation is more acute as UK produce is out of season: 90% of our lettuces, 80% of our tomatoes and 70% of our soft fruit is sourced from the EU at that time of year. As this produce is fresh and perishable, it needs to be moved quickly from farms to our stores.

“This complex, ‘just in time’ supply chain will be significantly disrupted in the event of no deal. Even if the UK government does not undertake checks on products at the border, there will still be major disruption at Calais as the French government has said it will enforce sanitary and customs checks on exports from the EU, which will lead to long delays; Government data suggest freight trade between Calais and Dover may reduce by 87% against current levels as a result. For consumers, this will reduce the availability and shelf life of many products in our stores.

“We are also extremely concerned about the impact of tariffs. Only around 10% of our food imports, a fraction of the products we sell, is currently subject to tariffs so if the UK were to revert to WTO Most Favoured Nation status, as currently envisaged in the no-deal scenario, it would greatly increase import costs, which could in turn put upward pressure on food prices. The UK could set import tariffs at zero but that would have a devastating impact on our own farmers, a key part of our supply chains.”

The British Retail Consortium Launches Cyber Security Toolkit

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The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has today (March 7th) launched a practical guide to help retailers of all sizes prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from major cyber-attacks and other forms of online criminal activity.

The BRC Cyber Security Toolkit is the very first of its kind and has been designed to outline potential threats and provide step by step guidance on dealing with data breaches, plus reporting issues such as fraudulent scams.

The kit was launched in London by the BRC and Home Office Minister Sarah Newton. Online retail has seen huge growth over recent years, with sales up by 10 to 15 per cent year on year. The same period has seen the rise of complex and elaborate forms of cyber-related crimes against retail businesses and online shoppers.

A comprehensive list of types and methodologies of cyber-attacks are included within the toolkit, along with recommendations to retail businesses that include establishing cyber security as a board level issue creating an incident response plan.

The BRC Annual Retail Crime Survey 2016 reports that an estimated 53 per cent of reported fraud in the retail industry is cyber-enabled, representing a cost of around £100 million.

“The UK is one of the leading e-commerce markets in the world, said Hugo Rosemont, Policy Advisor on Crime & Security at BRC. “The BRC Cyber Security Toolkit is designed to equip British retailers with the know-how, guidance and practical support that will help the industry stay ahead of the ever evolving threats posed by cyber-related criminality. All parts of the retail industry have a large and growing stake in keeping customers safe and secure, and the industry is committed to ensuring the strongest possible measures are in place – all the way through from prevention to incident response.”

Sarah Newton, Minister for Vulnerability, Safeguarding and Countering Extremism added: “Crime is changing and so the way we all work to tackle it must change too. We are already taking world-leading action to stamp out cyber crime and fraud, including investing £1.9 billion in cyber security over five years. But as we have said, the Government cannot do this alone. Businesses have a responsibility to take steps to protect themselves and their customers, which is why we are delighted that the BRC has introduced their Cyber Security Toolkit to help retailers to do so.”