A luthier of stars like Ed Sheeran and Sir Paul McCartney said Brexit now made it easier to ship an instrument to South Korea than to France.
Alister Atkin, 47, said import rules had wreaked havoc on his small business and deliveries were a nightmare.
The luthier said what was a painless process for European products “collapsed” in January and six months later it only started showing small signs of improvement.
He works from his small workshop near Canterbury, Kent, at Atkin Guitars, and exports handmade instruments all over the world.
3 days in Chicago, 10 days in Dublin
One of the country’s leading acoustic guitar makers, he was commissioned to recreate instruments for the Buddy Holly Educational Foundation
While the majority of his clients are guitar enthusiasts, he has attracted the interest of many stars including Bruce Springsteen.
Mr Atkin said: âI can bring a guitar to Chicago in three days, but it takes 10 days to get to Dublin.
âI would have less trouble sending a guitar to South Korea than just across the water in France, which is crazy.
âCollecting goods from Europe for repair has also become a major challenge, even with the right documents.
âIt incurs a full VAT invoice from the original sale price just to get it into the country – even when you’ve filled out a temporary repair form.
âAnd returning goods often incurs costs on the other side. “
Made in Brittany
He was also previously featured in the ITV Made In Britain series, which showcased the best of the UK industry.
He and his small team of luthiers handcraft around 350 guitars a year. Such quality doesn’t come cheap, with prices starting at Â£ 2,595.
Mr Atkin added: ‘It’s incredibly frustrating and adds stress at a time when you don’t need it and, to me at least, nothing like Brexit has been promised.
âFor example, if I want to buy rosewood from Spain, it now takes eight weeks to import CITES timber from the EU to the UK and costs Â£ 300 per shipment. Six months ago it cost nothing and took two days.
He said he has now been forced to work with a cash machine that costs money, but said he predicted that the Brexit chaos would bring.
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âFor years I have moved things in and out of the United States and it comes at a cost.
âPeople who buy from us in America are shocked that they have to pay duty because they have never bought anything in the UK.
âWhen it comes to Europe now, it turns people off. Someone bought us a guitar a few weeks ago and it took a month for the guitar to arrive because it got stuck in customs.
âThe first month, January, was a shitty show. No one really bothered to ship anything.
âIt’s been six months now and things are getting a little easier, but people should know that things are not going very well for some people.
âA small business is up to 50 people making something like Â£ 6.5million. We have eight people working here and we don’t return any of that kind of money.
âWe spend more time trying to negotiate all of these situations. Half the time the government has no answers for us and it becomes very difficult.
Wing and a prayer
âYou can ask someone from HMRC to say it should be like that, but it isn’t.
âI know this is only a small part of this whole problem. I try not to insist on it – I’m pissed off about leaving the EU – but I realize that is what happened and it was decided years ago that it was this that was going to happen.
âI just feel like it’s another typical Boris situation. There is no real foresight on this. It’s about handling things on a wing and a prayer.
Mr Atkin said he recently posted his frustrations on a community forum website.
âWhat’s interesting is that before Brexit, when I was wondering how easy business could be, there were a lot of responses from leavers saying that everything would be fine,â he said. he declares.
“But not a word when I post the problems I have.”
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