Big Win for Chamber Member through Support and Lobbying Power of the Chamber Network

29th April 2020

“Distinction Group ltd are an SME based in Sheffield and Barnsley manufacturing and distributing composite doors to the UK market.

“Distinction Group ltd are an SME based in Sheffield and Barnsley manufacturing and distributing composite doors to the UK market. The vast majority of our raw material is imported from the Far East and we pay import VAT and duty as the goods arrive so that they can be released through customs. We have never needed to apply for a duty deferment account as it was previously not required for our business.

“The Covid-19 crisis created a significant challenge to the business, as per government guidelines regarding social distancing we closed production on the 23rd March, furloughed the majority of employees and contacted our supplier to stop any further deliveries. However, our lead time from the Far East is 6-10 weeks, so considerable amounts of product were already on the water.

“Obviously once we had temporarily ceased trading cashflow is of the essence, and our priority was to ensure we could pay our employees and protect our supply chain. The government decisions to allow deferment of VAT, NI and PAYE were very welcome, but I still had the issue of import VAT and duty.

“HMRC had no answer to this issue initially, but if I had paid the import VAT and duty on the containers at port and on the water it would take over £1M from my cashflow at a critical time for the business.

“I contacted our local Sheffield Chamber and spoke with Nick Patrick, Head of International Trade, who grasped the issue immediately, Nick assisted with the immediate issue of 28 containers that had built up portside by putting me in touch with a local customs warehouse provider who could take those goods. He subsequently quickly escalated the problem of the additional 62 containers that were on the water and due to arrive over the next few weeks to Liam Smyth, Director of Trade Facilitation at the British Chamber of Commerce who was able to lobby Government at the highest level to ensure that the issue was raised and resolved with speed.

“I am thrilled to say that we have now been able to defer our import VAT and duty and release the goods from port, HMRC used our Yorkshire SME as a test case to walk through a brand new process, I would have found it extremely difficult to make this happen without the support, advice and lobbying power of the Chamber of Commerce.”

Finance Director
Distinction Group

If your business is experiencing such problems, please get in touch with Sheffield Chamber by emailing 

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