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UPDATE 1-Sainsbury's says N.Ireland stores face reduced ranges without Brexit clarity

Thu, 5th Nov 2020 16:33

(Adds details)

LONDON, Nov 5 (Reuters) - British supermarket Sainsbury's
said it could have to cut its range of offering in
Northern Ireland unless it gets clarity on the province's
trading status after the end of Britain's Brexit transition
period on Dec. 31.

The United Kingdom is still in talks with the European Union
over a free trade deal with the bloc.

The two sides are also still discussing how goods will be
treated when they move between Britain and Northern Ireland, and
which goods could be "at risk" of moving from Northern Ireland
into EU-member Ireland, potentially requiring tariffs.

Sainsbury's CEO Simon Roberts told reporters that getting
certainty as soon as possible was now "really critical".

"The impact on Northern Ireland if we don't see that is we
will see restrictions in the range of products we can send to
Northern Ireland stores," he said.

"There's a wide range of restricted products that until we
get clarity would be at risk, that we wouldn't be able to make
available, until something changes," he added.

Roberts said wide elements of meat, fish and dairy product
ranges could all be impacted in its 13 stores in the province.

He also highlighted the unresolved issue of licensing and
import requirements.

"We'd like to see a trusted-trader situation which means we
can move products to stores in Northern Ireland without that
additional level of requirement," he said.

Roberts said UK supermarket industry representatives had a
productive meeting on Brexit with government officials last
week.

"It was a positive exchange on the issues: there was a real
desire to listen and understand, particularly on the issue of
Northern Ireland, what we need to do."

Roberts was speaking after Sainsbury's published first-half
results and updated on strategy.

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Kate Holton and Stephen
Addison)

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