Brexit & Channel: Test of French customs system ‘very encouraging’

Truck arriving with simulated customs documents which were scanned at check-in by our staff. See the full post-Brexit flow that was tested in pictures in the gallery together with a video below

There was little support from the weather which showed its teeth with high winds and a bit of rain. But there was plenty of support from our colleagues working in the Channel business – and from lorry drivers – when the French authorities’ newly developed customs system and our system and processes were all tested in a full-scale exercise with real trucks and full ships on Tuesday this week, attracting massive media attention and followed closely by several trade associations, including the influential Freight Transport Association.

Separate tests of the IT systems took place from Calais and Dunkerque at morning departures and the full-scale tests at departures from Dover to Calais and Dunkerque in the afternoon, as we expect these to be the most challenging ones after Brexit.

We followed the departure for Calais at 15:20 on board Cote de Dunes. At arrival at check-in in Dover, all trucks were given simulated customs documents which were scanned at check-in by our staff and paired with the booking. This revealed that if the driver has the correct documents, the time to process the truck is almost the same as today. The customs documents were artificially ‘presented’ electronically to French Customs by the ‘customs agent’ and when the ferry left the port, French customs presented a list of all the boarded trucks’ license plates on a TV screen in the drivers’ lounge on board. The screen showed orange signs for the trucks they wanted to check upon arrival, and green signs for trucks that could continue their journey without being checked.

Even though the truck drivers participated voluntarily, they all understood the system, and trucks with orange signs did chose the lane with an orange stripe that took them to the control area. The rest continued without any delays and traffic flow was fully maintained.

The conclusion was as encouraging as it was illuminating: The systems works, as do our systems and processes, and it looks as if we can handle traffic and ensure the flow across the Channel in a post-Brexit world – provided that the trucks that arrive at check-in have prepared and present the customs documents.

“Unfortunately, we know that many customers and operators will – for various reasons – still be unprepared and arrive without having completed their customs formalities. Therefore, we have to be prepared that traffic could be disrupted at the beginning, even though systems and processes are ready and work. It is in everyone’s interest to avoid delays, and some may even suffer losses because of it, so we are confident that there will be a steep learning curve that will quickly reduce the number of unprepared trucks,” says Jean Aubert of the Brexit team .

“It has therefore become very clear that for the next four weeks, information to and support for our customers with preparing for customs clearance must move to the top of our agenda,” he says.

Thanks
“This was a huge success, and it did not come by itself. In all parts of our Channel business, people have been working tirelessly to get ready for this. Our IT teams, Jesper Christensen’s operations team, our commercial teams and our customs team in France where Stéphanie, Hubert and Clarisse have spent nearly a full week of work on preparing the test and following up with the authorities – all deserve our gratitude and great credit for the work. Thank you also to the Brexit team and the people in the Group’s IT department where those working with Brexit have worked many late hours and weekends at work to get ready for this.

“Thanks to all of you, we have come really far in our preparations and the test demonstrated that we have the right things in place, and did it in the right way,” says Kasper Moos, Head of BU Short Routes & Passenger.

Kasper was not able to witness the test himself as he was occupied in a meeting with the British government – about Brexit!

A full scale test of post Brexit customs systems and processes on Tuesday was very successful.

See the full post-Brexit flow that was tested in pictures in the gallery below and a video below

Huge interest for North Sea Brexit Day in Immingham

On Monday this week, Ferry in Immingham had invited customers, partners and local authorities to a Brexit meeting. With a possible no-deal Brexit only a month away, interest has grown immensely and over 100 participants turned up to learn about the requirements and solution from HMRC (UK Customs) Associated British Ports, the Local Resilience Forum and not least Emma Leam – our own Brexit expert. The many participants left with a lot more knowledge about traffic management and practical arrangements for Day one after a No-Deal Brexit.

“We were really pleased that so many chose to come and get wiser on how we will handle it and how they can prepare. At DFDS, we have come a long way with preparations, and now the most critical element in maintaining flow after Brexit will be the level of preparations among our customers. So, meetings and information about how our customers can and need to prepare will be high on the agenda from now on,” says Emma.

DFDS shortlisted to bid on Brexit tenders

Along with seven sea, rail and air freight companies, DFDS has been shortlisted to bid on government contracts to transport critical goods in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

As the UK Department for Transport (DfT) writes in a press release on Friday 20 September, the companies will be using ports away from the congested Channel routes between Dover and Calais, Dunkirk and Boulogne.

According to the DfT, there can be bids for up to £300m over four years, and the first contracts will be awarded in mid-October.

The eight companies signed up to the framework include, DFDS, Brittany Ferries, Irish Ferries, P&O Ferries, Seatruck and Stena, as well as aviation freight provider Air Charter Services, and Eurotunnel.

Portrait of the Brexit team: Jean Aubert

Jean Aubert, Head of Group Indirect Taxes, has been extremely busy building and using his expertise on customs formalities to help DFDS prepare for Brexit – formalities, which, ironically, had disappeared with the introduction of EU’s single market in 1993, the same year he moved to the UK for a French transport company. Here he is, back in February, informing customers about Brexit preparations in Rotterdam .

There will be very few who know more about post-Brexit formalities and challenges than Jean Aubert, Head of Group Indirect Taxes – a knowledge built on a unique mix of education, industry experience and tireless work to interpret, explain and influence the future Brexit customs processes.

Having grown up in the historic city of Carcassonne in southern France, where he was born in 1965, he graduated from the University of Toulouse with a degree in finance and economics. He also became a chartered accountant, but instead of working as one, he took a role as financial controller at Norbert Dentressangle, one of France’s largest transport companies at the time. The company sent him to the UK in 1993 where, ironically, border formalities had just disappeared with the introduction of the EU’s single market. The company became quite famous in the UK because of a competition where you had to count how many of their lorries you were able to count on the road.

Jean moved on to the ferry business in 1996 when he joined SeaFrance as financial controller for the UK subsidiary and in charge of the finance departments for the ports of Dover and Calais – an experience that comes in handy for the Brexit work.

SeaFrance sailed into trouble, and after bankruptcy and a rather turbulent time, the ships were taken over by Eurotunnel and, later, by DFDS – and Jean left the company. “However, I stayed in contact with Torben Carlsen, and in 2013, former Head of BU Channel, Carsten Jensen, offered me the position of Project Manager for the legal area and for the refurbishment of the Port of Dunkerque – which was very much a team effort,” says Jean. In 2016, he moved on to his current position as Head of Group Indirect Taxes reporting to Jesper Heilbuth Mikkelsen, Head of Group Accounts and Taxes, and acting CFO.

In his job in the BU, he also had IT-related tasks, and so he was really prepared for his next big challenge: Getting DFDS ready for Brexit as member of the Brexit team. This job has kept him on the road, visiting nearly all offices in the UK and Ireland, France, Belgium, Holland Denmark and meeting with customs in all those countries.

Because of Brexit, Jean has had to apply for and has been granted permanent settled status in the UK.

“That DFDS is as prepared as we are for Brexit is obviously a fantastic team effort, involving other members of the Brexit Team, and many colleagues in business. However, I think all agree that without Jean’s expertise, without his and his associate Stéphanie Thomas connections to the EU, to national authorities and associations, we would certainly not have been this prepared – neither with border processes nor with our ability to offer customs clearance as a service to our customers. This has only been possible because of his tireless work and huge commitment to the task – a commitment that has made him sacrifice vacations and days off. Knowledge is the special mark he puts on things, always bringing facts and details into the discussions. In addition to this, he is simply a great colleague and person and always ready to help,” says Jesper Mikkelsen Heilbuth.

Channel colleagues prepare for Brexit

The ‘Get ready for Brexit’ staff offer invaluable guidance to customers and their drivers about the the potential Brexit on 31 October and how the procedures will be

As Brexit approaches, our colleagues on the Channel are preparing for the challenges ahead and have been for some time.

Amongst readiness planning within the ports and impact programmes for counties in the greater area, especially Kent, we are preparing our customers for a smooth transition together with the Department for Transport.

Therefore, we have teamed up with their marketing and strategy Brexit-team to deliver very important guidance to our customers and drivers.

Teams of two or three members of staff have started working 24/7 in and near the ‘Road Kings’ drivers lounge. They have a small area with some banners, desks, questionnaires, leaflets, as well as advice and information and guides for drivers. All this is delivered in several languages and includes information about how we are preparing for the challenges of hauliers and exporters.

Currently, teams are always present on board Dunkerque Seaways, and all six vessels are set to have round-the-clock coverage from 23 September. The other five being Dover Seaways, Delft Seaways, Calais Seaways, Côte des Dunes and Côte des Flandres.

Terminal Operations Manager Stewart Pearce says: “The teams are very well organised and have found a comfortable rhythm so as not to interfere with the drivers’ schedules for resting and meals. I speak with the managing director daily, and things are going well. Our efforts are well received with positive feedback from the vessel.”

“We firmly believe that this will go a long way to educating and keeping our customers well informed, and of course we are convinced that the customers will appreciate the assistance and guidance we offer.”


Guides and information are available in several languages and presented by well-trained staff

Now is the time to focus on Brexit

Dear everyone in the Ferry and Logistics Divisions,

It is impossible to precisely predict the risk of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, but it is fair to say that the risk hasn’t reduced lately – in fact rather the opposite! Therefore, we need to make sure that DFDS is ready and those of you working in our UK related businesses need to maintain attention to completing our own preparations and helping our customers complete theirs.

It is urgent. As it stands now, the free flow of goods will be affected by customs formalities in only 48 days.

We have come a long way, but there are still training to do and processes to adapt so that we can efficiently undertake customs clearance for those of our customers who ask us to do it for them.

There is a great deal of testing to do to ensure that the flow concepts planned in cooperation with customs authorities, ports and DFDS work as intended.

Support and understanding are needed for our colleagues in IT, who work tirelessly to get all systems ready for customs clearance and communication with customs and ports.

There will still be customers of Ferries and Logistics who have not completed the registrations and certifications  required for the customs formalities. You will need to reach out to those customers with meeting invites and other communication.

While providing information about the requirements to which we and our customers must adhere, we also need to show confidence in our ability to handle the Brexit challenges. Some of the scenarios presented to the public are much more negative than we perceive them to be. If we do it right, we and our customers can overcome the difficulties, limit delays and re-establish the flow within a few weeks.

We provide the infrastructure and the transport, which our customers should be able to rely on. Therefore, we have an obligation to be ready. Please use the knowledge gathered by the Brexit team and support them in their work and negotiations with the authorities. Use our Brexit website, which will be updated with the latest news next week. And above all, continue the fantastic work you have done so far in all locations.

Peder Gellert                                                         Niklas Andersson

EVP, Head of the Ferry Division                               EVP, Head of the Logistics Division

Seafood supply chain: Logistics at Brexit summit in France

DFDS employees attended a Brexit summit in Boulogne-sur-Mer to discuss the important seafood supply chain. Pictured are Stephanie Boriller, Operations Manager of DFDS Logistics Boulogne, Ivan Weatherhogg, Operations Director of DFDS Grimsby and Terry Broadhead, Managing Director of DFDS Grimsby

 

In preparation for Brexit, DFDS is coordinating its preparations with authorities, trade associations, customers and other stakeholders in order to align preparations so the supply chain works for all – this is not least the case for our important exports of seafood from the UK.

Thus, a delegation of employees from DFDS attended a Brexit summit in Boulogne-sur-Mer last week to discuss the readiness of the supply chain for seafood products entering through this key location.

The session included presentations from Seafish (a UK-based non-departmental public body) the Grimsby-based FMA (Fish Merchants Association) and DFDS Grimsby.

This well-attended event included representatives from the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), Port of Boulogne, cold store operators STEF and Delanchy, as well as several UK and French fish merchants.

Also in attendance was the Mayor of Boulogne, who gave a good insight into the port’s capabilities and the future plans to ensure seamless operations post-Brexit.

Terry Broadhead, MD of DFDS Grimsby, says: “It is crucial that with so little time left, all parties involved in the supply chain understand the role they play, and the level of readiness they need to achieve. Sessions like this are invaluable, with all key stakeholders in the room, to provide clarity on what can, and equally as important, what can’t be achieved.”

Brexit: we have an obligation to help maintain traffic flow

Dear all
Brexit is high on the European agenda again. And as no-one knows the final outcome of this highly unpredictable political process, our only option is to prepare for a no-deal Brexit with full customs control from 31 October.

Fortunately, we have come a long way in our preparations. These include:
– Adapting IT systems to ensure efficient digital communication with customs, customers and ports.
– Training staff in customs clearance and hiring experts to build expertise in various countries.
– Working closely with trade associations, customs, authorities, ports and customers to ensure that processes and solutions are aligned.
– AEO certification to ease cooperation with customs and customs processes.
– Allocating extra space in DFDS terminals for trailers waiting for customs clearance.
– Allocating space to establish stock service to help customers deliver quickly on both sides.
– Allocating staff to support our customers 24/7 in the first few hours and days after Brexit.

At a meeting this week of the Brexit Steering Committee, the status of our preparations was encouraging. However, it also revealed that we could do a lot more, and we need to do more, as we at DFDS have a special obligation to do our very best to maintain traffic flow and ensure the supply of goods to people and industries throughout the UK and the EU.

We will again be relying on the great work you do in all locations related to UK flows, and the important and valuable work being done by IT and our core members of the Brexit committee, such as Emma Leam, Jean Aubert, Stéphanie Thomas, Sean Potter, Jens Antonsen, their digital teams and other colleagues who are working tirelessly on building knowledge and supporting their colleagues throughout DFDS.

Despite our preparations, we still anticipate that many customers may be unprepared and that trailers will arrive at the port without the necessary documentation. As those trailers will not be able to enter the terminal, we anticipate that traffic flow will be disrupted for a few weeks.

Therefore, we will intensify our work to inform our customers how they can and need to prepare for customs control, via the internet, with newsletters, customer meetings and communication with communities in all locations.

If we are prepared, and if more of our customers get themselves prepared, we will be able to keep the disruption to traffic flow to a minimum, and quickly re-establish the flow on all routes so we can do what we are put into the world to do: enable our customers to trade and travel, and move people and goods across borders so business can continue to grow for us all.

Torben Carlsen

Emma Leam: Our Ferry Brexit guide

Allegedly, it was Benjamin Franklin who once said: “If you want something done, ask a busy person.” And that is what we do. Whenever Brexit knocks on our door, we call on some of DFDS’ busiest people, and that certainly helps us. Emma Leam, Agency Director, and Jean Aubert, Tax Director, are the core drivers and main experts for our Brexit preparations. Read a pen-portrait of Emma here, and one about Jean next week

Women employees were few and diversity programmes had not even been invented when Emma Leam began her career as an assistant in the freight booking department at DFDS in Immingham in 1996. However, hard work and a talent for leadership were strong tools in a career that took her to her current position as Agency Director in DFDS’ busiest freight terminal in 2017. In this role, she is now leading the service work in the UK for our freight routes to and from Brevik, Gothenburg, Esbjerg, Cuxhaven and Rotterdam.

This automatically makes her a central figure in our Brexit preparations, where she is a member of DFDS’ core Brexit team. Emma has acquired such extensive knowledge about Brexit and customs requirements that she serves as DFDS’ ‘database’ for her colleagues in Ferry who are striving to prepare their routes and terminals for customs control.

Though only in her mid-forties, Emma appears to have life-long experience in transport, which also includes experience in road transport, and consequently our customers’ business. She grew up in the seaside resort of Cleethorpes, just south of Grimsby and Immingham, so the transport business was always close by. With parents who supported her in her decision to apply for jobs that were then considered to be men’s jobs, she started at the Southwold Shipping company when she was just 18. Her ‘road’ career also took her via Alphatrans, which recently became part of DFDS as our special transport entity.

Combined with her knowledge of customs processes, her extensive transport experience gives her a unique position in understanding and interpreting the Brexit requirements. And as she has an open and nice way of communicating and meeting people, and always takes her responsibilities seriously, her advice is being sought by not only us at DFDS, but by customs and border authorities and associations who all want to understand what will happen so that they can prepare for Brexit.

Emma has recently got married, so the honeymoon also included some Brexit emailing and she landed straight back into Brexit meetings. She has a short break next week, one that has already been postponed, before she is once again in the Brexit limelight.

Round-table talks about Brexit with Danish Minister for Taxation

Kell Robdrup participated in a round-table discussion about Brexit in Esbjerg along with Morten Bødskov, Minister of Taxation (in the middle with Kell Robdrup behind). Further participants were Charlotte Møller and Maren Holm Johansen from the customs authorities, Dennis Jul Pedersen and Jesper Bank of Port of Esbjerg, Simon Galsgaard of DSV Road Denmark, Søren Thomsen of Blue Water Shipping, Michael Svane of Dansk Industri, Lars Albertsen of Danish Crown and staff from customs and from the Ministry of Taxation

On Monday 12 August, Morten Bødskov, the Danish Minister for Taxation, visited Port of Esbjerg. As you can imagine, Brexit was very much on the agenda. Therefore, the Confederation of Danish Industry (DI) took the initiative to arrange a round-table meeting, inviting major stakeholders such as DFDS, DSV, Blue Water Shipping and Danish Crown, the customs authorities and Port of Esbjerg to the talks about Brexit expectations and preparations. SVP Kell Robdrup represented DFDS as head of BU North Sea South and thus with responsibility for the Esbjerg – Immingham route which transports most of the trailers between Denmark and the UK.

“It was interesting that most operators were aligned with regard to expectations relating to post-Brexit traffic flows and the lack of preparation among smaller and medium-sized companies. I am also pleased that I was able to discuss directly with the authorities about their plans for a Border Inspection Point (BIP) in Esbjerg, and raise awareness about requirements for opening hours. It is, of course, vital that the check-point is open for business when our ferry arrives from the UK in the afternoon,” says Kell, who was pleased with the fruitful discussions and cooperative spirit of the meeting.

DFDS Seaways UK host Multi-Agency Brexit Planning Day

Conscious that the clock is ticking towards Brexit, DFDS Seaways UK hosted a meeting with several UK Customs and Border authorities on 6 August.

 

The DFDS Seaways Immingham Management Team are conscious that the clock is ticking towards 31 October. To align Brexit processes and expectations for the North Sea Freight routes in the UK, they brought together several of the UK Customs and Border authorities for a meeting Immingham on 6 August.

After the meeting featuring 25 key stakeholders, Managing Director Andrew Byrne said: “It was about getting everyone around the table and getting some alignment on operational process and practicality. Not only do we want to be port-ready for when the time comes – be it deal or no deal – we want to make sure everyone else is. If what we have proposed becomes best practice, then that is a really powerful contribution – to drive rather than be driven.”

The diverse range of cargo and the pace at which roll-on, roll-off traffic arrives and leaves the facility – on average one unit every 60 seconds – means retaining the fluid movement of goods is a top priority. Due to the complex and multi-user nature of the Port Estate it is also vital other port users and operators retain the same free flowing operation otherwise their issues could affect all port users.

The DFDS team gave all meeting attendees a tour of the terminal. This gave all parties a taste of the impact that anything, but smooth passage could cause. The tour brought to life the issue of frictionless trade. All agencies could see it at first hand which was very powerful.

Agency Director Emma Leam explained why she felt the need to bring people together, “We were concerned about the lack of activity with planning and where we are. We needed to get things moving so we took the decision to not only host but facilitate a meeting with several key government agencies.”

“We had proposals we wanted to run by them, to ensure we are compliant whilst being efficient. We are critical to the UK supply chain and economy and we needed to show people this first-hand. We have been working hard to prepare for everything and be ready for anything, but we need to be aligned with all the agencies,” she added.

Next month DFDS Seaways UK will host and facilitate a Brexit Engagement Day with customers and supply chain partners with over 100 delegates expected to attend.

Brexit: UK Department for Transport issues tender

“Whether DFDS will participate in the Brexit tender issued by the UK Department for Transport will be decided later,” says Kell Robdrup, SVP BU North Sea South.

 

As you know, DFDS had a very good cooperation with the UK Department for Transport (DfT) about providing extra capacity for sea transport around the expected Brexit days of 29 March and 12 April.
The press is now reporting a new initiative by the DfT to ensure extra capacity around the new Brexit date of 31 October 2019.

“However, the process is different from the previous one. The Dft has just issued a tender for the job, enabling ferry and shipping companies to submit their bids and terms for providing the extra sea transport capacity between EU and the UK , which the DfT considers necessary to ensure the supply of critical goods during the first few months after 31 October. All companies can participate,” says Kell Robdrup, VP BU North Sea South.

“Whether DFDS will participate will be decided later. Today – Thursday 4 July – Emma Leam, Agency Director in Immingham and member of our Brexit team, Jean-Claude Charlo, MD France, and Maria Anagnostou, Fleet Management, will participate in an information meeting arranged by the Dft to explain the tender and the process,” he says.

Brexit stockpiling created temporary volumes peak on DFDS’ ferry routes

In a freight market as huge as in the one to and from the UK, a volume jump of ten per cent from month to month is very unusual.  However, due to Brexit, this is what happened on DFDS North Sea and English Channel routes on average during March.

“This is in our view due to the fear of a disruption of transport routes up to the then expected Brexit dates of 31 March and 12 April and possible cumbersome customs procedures and additional tax on the goods,” says Kell Robdrup, Senior Vice President, North Sea routes.

“Both we and our customers have prepared intensively for Brexit, and among those are customers that have production and assembly lines that need a continuous influx of parts to keep running. The ferry routes also service customers that have obligations to secure goods flow for their customers. Therefore, many companies have been building extra stocks to avoid a very costly break down of deliveries, not least on the Dover-France routes where DFDS alone services more than a million trucks every year,” he says.

As part of the UK’s preparations, the  UK department for Transport has also signed an agreement with, among other, DFDS, to perform extra sailings to protect the people and businesses in the UK from lack of critical goods in case of a disruption of traffic due to a no-deal Brexit. As this didn’t happen and Brexit was postponed, this ‘insurance’ contract was cancelled on 1 May by the UK Department for Transport.

“DFDS is continuing its work to prepare for Brexit until a no-deal Brexit isn’t a risk anymore.”

BREXIT: DFDS gets its first full certificate as customs Authorised Economic Operator (AEO)

Wolter Horstman, Customs Manager for the Netherlands with the full AEO Certificate granted to Logistics in the Netherlands. Logistics in Germany has also been granted AEO certification. They can now look forward to simplified customs produces and are entitled to use the AEO logo.

 

As you know, Brexit isn’t over. It has only been postponed, and all our colleagues involved in preparing for Brexit are continuing their work in all relevant areas. An important task is preparing for doing customs clearance, which we also want to offer our customers as a service.

Therefore, we have spent a lot of time preparing for certification in relevant countries as Authorised Economic Operator (AOE), which is a Customs-Business partnership introduced by the World Customs Organisation. Traders who become AOE certified enjoy benefits throughout the EU such as simplified customs procedures and securities. Jean Aubert, Group Indirect Tax Manager and member of the Brexit team, says: “Now our hard work is starting to pay off, and shortly before Easter, DFDS Logistics in the Netherlands received full AEO certification for customs simplifications and customs security. It is the first time we have been granted full AEO certification, which gives access to a range of customs waivers including reduced requirements for providing guarantees. Furthermore, we received AOE certification for customs simplification in Germany.”

Wolter Horstman, Customs Manager for the Netherlands, says: “The certificate is recognition by the authorities of the seriousness and robustness of our procedures in the Netherlands and is also a commitment to transparency with the authorities.”

Michael Bech, MD for Logistics in the Netherlands, says: “I want to thank Wolter and everyone else in the local team involved in this. The application has cost a great deal of work, and we received a lot of praise from the authorities. Special thanks also to the DFDS group tax department for assisting us throughout the application process. It has been a very successful team effort between the local business unit and the head office functions.”

In Germany, Aivars Oss was the project lead and handled the application with the local resources. This is also an outstanding achievement. “We started somewhere in June/July 2018 and finally obtained the AOE status on 4 April. The German customs authorities started an evaluation procedure in 2018 but have been inundated by the many Brexit-related applications so we had to be patient and were challenged by the authorities during this evaluation process,” says Aivars, who is being credited for this. Philipp Mayworm adds: “German authorities can be rather tough but Aivars’ professionalism ensured that we finally have everything in place. Besides driving the AEO application, Aivars also shared best practice with colleagues in Cuxhaven and acted as sparring partner with regard to possible (customs) consequences following Brexit.”

Over the coming weeks and months we expect to see more local business receiving AEO certificates.

DFDS Seaways NV starts customs brokerage in Belgium

DFDS is now offering customs clearance as a service to customers in Belgium, and several customers have already shown an interest in buying this service from us, as it increases their ease of doing business. Photography – Tom D’haenens.

 

DFDS Seaways completed its first sales of customs declarations in Belgium. Gislene Alves, who only joined DFDS in October, has been very busy over the last few months with an application for certification as an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) and getting all necessary authorisations and guarantees for selling customs services. This was completed in record time, and last week the first sales for these services were completed and we started showing some revenue. Gislene says: “We had a thorough review and quality approval from Belgian Customs authorities, and it took some time to get all authorisations and systems in place so it was nice to finally launch the service to our customers. Within the next few weeks we should also obtain the AEO certification for DFDS Seaways NV, which again will simplify procedures for us.”

Sam de Wilde, Managing Director of DFDS Seaways NV, adds: “I would like to congratulate Gislene for all her efforts and also the group taxation department for assisting us in obtaining the authorisations and for the AEO application. The treasury department was also very responsive in providing the necessary guarantees. We have undertaken this project not only to prepare for Brexit but also to further raise the reputation and profile of our Belgian shipping activities. The first sales were for an existing multimodal customer, but we are confident we will be supplying these services for other customers, including other DFDS companies, in the near future. Several customers have already shown an interest in buying this service from us, as it increases their ease of doing business.”

Thank you to our colleagues in BU North Sea South

Kell Robdrup thanks everyone in BU North Sea South for their hard work preparing the BU for Brexit

Dear colleagues in BU North Sea South,

Today we can take comfort in the news that we have been granted a further six months to prepare for Brexit.

Everyone in BU North Sea South: Immingham, Rotterdam, Felixstowe, Cuxhaven, Esbjerg and Fredericia has done a fantastic job in preparing for a possible hard Brexit on 29 march and then again more recently on 12 April. The task however would have been that much harder had we suffered the impact of a hard Brexit despite all these efforts.

The fantastic work you have done will need to be adapted to the situation that results from the now ongoing negotiations and of course the consequent uncertainty. We can however use the work that we have done to be even better prepared – not least with fully developed IT systems  which the IT teams will now be better able to deliver with this additional time.

What really triggers a big thank you to all of you, is that we were actually ready for a hard Brexit on 29 March. The extra 14 days we were granted to 12 April were then used optimally by our teams to ensure that processes were in a place to support our customers and maintain flow, even though we had to rely on some temporary and manual solutions.

The Ferry Divisions’ Digital & IT Officer team led by Sean Potter worked day and night and challenged our local organisations in order to find as many common and workable solutions as possible. And IT has done a tremendous job in supporting us.

Our colleagues in Immingham, Rotterdam, Cuxhaven, Felixstowe, Esbjerg/Fredericia have had a crucial role in the coordination between the DIO and IT teams and each nations customs authorities, along with their specific systems and requirements, ports and terminal operators.

The work in informing our customers so as to help them and their own customers prepare for Brexit has also rested heavily on yours and our Brexit team’s shoulders.

Many of you deserve credit for this, but it has also been a team effort and I want to thank everyone at each location for the hard work to prepare us for Brexit and at the same time handle the day to day job of taking care of our customers while people and systems were also under extreme pressure to get cargo shipped before deadline.

I can’t congratulate and thank you enough for managing to get us through this very challenging time. Well done to all involved. I am extremely proud of the result, which everyone in the North Sea and in the UK achieved during Q1 with the support of IT and the Brexit team. Thank you!

Kell Robdrup, EVP, BU North Sea south

Brexit postponed until 31 October

Dear all,

Last night the EU leaders decided to give the UK more time to find a way of leaving the EU with a deal. This is very good news as it means that there will be no hard Brexit on Friday 12 April.

Those of you who were on stand-by duty to assist customers and colleagues from 12 April can now spend the time on other things or on getting ready for the Easter holidays.

However, we still do not know what what the final withdrawal agreement will say or whether a customs union will be included, and there is still a risk of a no-deal Brexit, even though it is a very reduced one. Therefore, our only option is to continue our preparations for a no-deal Brexit, which will also prepare us for any other solution that may be agreed between the UK and the EU.

At a Brexit Steering Committee meeting on 25 April, we will discuss how to continue the work now that we have more time, what to focus on, resources and at what speed preparations should continue. Together with the Brexit team, the Steering Committee will also continue to monitor the situation so we can adapt our preparations in line with the developments.

We are fully aware that the last weeks have been extremely stressful for the many of you who have been working hard to get DFDS ready for a no-deal Brexit, sometimes at the cost of your daily tasks and spare time. We are very grateful for this. Your commitment in the teams and dedication to finding solutions and solving problems have inspired us all and given everyone in and outside DFDS confidence in our professionalism and ability to hold a steady course even in adverse conditions.

The Executive Committee

Niels Smedegaard   Torben Carlsen   Peder Gellert    Eddie Green

Joint efforts prepare Channel for Brexit

“The question now is simple – what length of extension can be mutually acceptable to both the EU and the UK? If the EU pushes a hard line on a long extension rather than, it fears, a series of requests for short extensions, is that something which Theresa May can push through Cabinet, and Parliament? No Deal seems unlikely but still eminently possible in the current febrile atmosphere.”

Chris Parker, Director of Capacity & Commercial Performance, Eastern Channel, on Friday 5 April.  

If you are not among the lucky recipients of Chris Parker’s brilliant weekly analyses of the politics of Brexit, you can get a taste of it above in this conclusion from his most recent contribution.

That Chris Parker is following the situation more closely than most is understandable. He is capacity and performance director for our Channel routes – and they will be more affected by Brexit than any other ferry route.

“If we were unprepared for Brexit, DFDS, travellers and hauliers, businesses and tourism on both sides of the Channel would suffer under it. In this situation I am extremely grateful for all the work, energy and commitment we see among our colleagues in the Channel and central Brexit teams helping us prepare for it. I am equally grateful for the commitment we see among customs authorities, ports and trade associations to work with us to find solutions that will mitigate the consequences. All this gives me confidence in our ability to solve many of the challenges a hard Brexit would present us if the attempts to postpone it should fail,” says Kasper Moos, Head of BU Channel.

Preparations include the below.

Finding solutions with customs
We have had a series of meetings with French customs that has fostered a very good solution. The French customs authorities will get the customs clearance documents for all trucks boarding in Dover so they can use the crossing time to inspect documents. Via an information board in the drivers’ lounge, trucks’ number plates will be listed in red for the trucks which customs want to inspect at arrival. All other trucks, listed in green, will be able to continue their journey after arrival without further inspection.

“This is a brilliant solution which will greatly reduce the risk of long waiting times if the trucks have the documentation in place when they arrive at the terminal. Jean Aubert, his team and not least Stephanie Thomas deserve huge credit for their cooperation with customs about this, as do Sean Potter, Jenny Daker and the DIO team for having prepared our systems, and aligned processes, including Phoenix, My Freight, API connection to Authorities, EDI, and 3rd party software along with IT / Digital development to handle this,” says Kasper.

BU Channel and French customs have agreed to test the system again with real trucks on Monday.

Training of staff in port operations where Jesper Christensen’s and Sebastien Douvry’s staff will be the first to meet customers on arrival and to check whether documents have been completed and guide the customers. Port operation colleagues have also done a great job preparing Dunkerque for handling more trucks waiting and for customs controls.

HR preparations
“The impact of Brexit will be felt not just by our customers but by our staff, and our HR departments have been working hard to support all of our colleagues and to ensure continuity of our services”.

Informing passengers and cargo customers.
“Philipp Päper has done a great job coordinating our passenger Brexit preparations, and BU Group Passenger, with support from Digital, have been preparing our digital sales platform to communicate with our passengers about new requirements. Wayne Bullen and his team have been extremely busy informing and coordinating with all our freight customers.

IT systems
A huge amount of work is ongoing to adapt our IT systems to the new requirements, including for communicating with customs systems in all countries, port systems and customers’ systems.

Are we ready?
“We are as prepared as we can be. However, despite all preparations and communications to our customers, there is still a risk that some of our customers won’t be ready with the required export and import declarations from day one. Therefore, we expect that there will be disruption to the operations in the early days so we have allocated additional staff and management to secure the contact to all relevant stakeholders to be able to react promptly to potential disruptions.”


Kasper Moos, Vice President & Head of BU Channel

Thank you for all your Brexit work

Already now we see effects of Brexit as the companies have been filling stocks to be prepared for a possible no-deal Brexit. This is causing a lot of extra work and space issues on board and in the terminals, such as in Immingham where we need many trailers to park at dedicated areas outside the terminal. This is only part of the challenge as many colleagues in our agencies and offices, and at the terminals, have been working hard over a long period of time to prepare DFDS for Brexit.

We can always do more in order to be prepared, and therefore we appreciate the additional days we acquired to do this when the deadline was moved from 29 March to 12 April if no solution were to be found before then. However, we are aware that this has consequences for many of you. The round-the-clock support for our customers for a no-deal Brexit will no longer be needed on 29 March as originally planned, but on 12 April, and those of you working in operations, sales, service, IT, back office etc. will need to change your plans to be able to accommodate this.

Your work is making DFDS one of the companies that is best prepared for Brexit, and will enable us to support our customers even better in the event of a hard Brexit. It will continue to be very important for us, not only up to 12 April, but in the days, weeks or even months afterwards, until business and transport companies have adapted to the situation.

We still hope that a better solution than a no-deal Brexit can be found, and we will continue to keep you and our customers updated about developments. We also recommend that you look at our website regularly to see if there are changes.

However, for the moment we can only offer you our gratitude for your hard work and commitment to ensuring that DFDS is as well-prepared as possible to handle a no-deal scenario.

Peder Gellert and Eddie Green

Great news: Brexit on 29 March is off the table

EU’s offer to postpone Brexit until 22 May or 12 April, removes the risk of a hard Brexit on 29 March.

“Therefore, this is really good news for DFDS and the many colleagues who had planned to be stand-by to assist our customers and be able to quickly solve Brexit issues round the clock after 29 March. It is too early to say what will happen now, but we welcome the EU’s decision as it opens new opportunities for finding better solutions than a no-deal Brexit to the benefit of people and businesses in the UK and the EU, and it does give us more time,” says Niels Smedegaard.

“However, we still need to carry on our preparations as the risk of a no-deal Brexit on 12 April unfortunately still exists,” he says.

BBC filming in Immingham

DFDS is getting a lot of attention regarding Brexit, not least from the media. On 11 February, the BBC interviewed Andrew Byrne, Managing Director, about a possible no-deal Brexit and the knock-on effect it would have on the RDF transportation. They also filmed the loading operation of RDF (refuse-derived fuel) bales onto Lysvik Seaways, as shown in the pictures.

The footage and interview will air on 17 February on BBC1’s Sunday Politics show at 11:00 UK time.


Joint Brexit information meeting in Vlaardingen

Jean Aubert from DFDS’ Brexit team informed customers about Brexit preparations at a successful meeting initiated jointly by logistics and Ferry in Rotterdam. Other presenters were Michael Bech and Dick van Herwaarden from Logistics

A few days ago, 85 customers from a variety of industries set course towards the Delta Hotel in Rotterdam for an update on DFDS and Brexit. The meeting was a joined initiative taken by DFDS Logistics, DFDS Special Cargo and DFDS Ferry Division in Vlaardingen as part of their ongoing work to inform customers about our preparations for Brexit and at the same time inform them about the preparations that Brexit will require them to make.

Presenters from DFDS Group were Jean Aubert who is from our Finance Division and a representative of the Brexit team; Lucien Stotefalk from the Ferry Division and Michael Bech and Dick van Herwaarden from Logistics.

“It was a very interactive session with a lots of questions from our customers,” says Dick van Herwaarden.

 

Watch DFDS’ webinar with customers

How can we best prepare for Brexit? The answer to this was DFDS’ very first webinar -a very successful online  seminar –  which our Brexit team and Marketing had invited customers to, and which took place on Thursday 10 January from 16:00 to 17:00.

It had an upper limit of 500 participants, and as interest among our customers was extremely high, it was completely ‘sold out’.

However, it is now available for all to see. Enjoy – and If you have any questions related to Brexit, please contact a member of the Brexit team (Emma Leam, Michael Mortensen , Rodney Ferguson or Jean Aubert). For questions related to webinars in general and related marketing activities, please contact the campaign planners in the Freight Marketing team (Daniel Hovedskou, Marketa Urbanova, Mirit Bisholt or Henrik Killander).

The teams are planning further webinars and customer meetings, including local managements meetings with their customers.

Preparing for Brexit – training all personnel in Gothenburg

In order to be prepared for different scenarios regarding Brexit, Anneli Hellgren, Haulage Procurement Manager, has coordinated a local Brexit group tasked with keeping our colleagues in Gothenburg informed and running staff training to prepare for Brexit.

In early December, the group underwent its first customs training in Gothenburg facilitated by Patrik Andreasson, General Manager of Customs. The Customs Department updated on the service they will be able to offer to Logistics and its customers and what they must be aware of when it comes to customs procedures, authorisations and classifications of goods. This information is susceptible to change every day, so the Brexit group will meet every other week to remain updated. It reports to Mathias Dahlström, Director, Sweden International.

They will have this training on four occasions with small groups to enable everyone to ask questions and discuss the matter thoroughly. The next step for the group is to record the work in processes that can be reproduced and make sure that the preparation for Brexit is included in the cooperation between customers, Logistics and customs.