Largs businessman says ‘Brexit coup left me on the verge of a nervous breakdown’
An aspiring Largs businessman has revealed how the Brexit bureaucracy left his new business in tatters – and pushed him to the brink of a nervous breakdown.
Reece Ewart has been unable to obtain stock for his Pine Marten Plants store for about six weeks due to a price hike that means suppliers will not be carrying merchandise.
He says he remained desperate and threatened with ruin just months after it opened on the city’s main street.
Reece explained: “We opened early last year and everything was fine until December when the impact of Brexit caught up with us.
“We couldn’t import any plants from Europe and I almost had a nervous breakdown because I thought our company could go bankrupt.
“Our suppliers were really good but ended up not being able to send us anything due to skyrocketing shipping costs.
“Imports were completely messed up and it was an extremely worrying and stressful time.”
Reece says government grants were a lifeline as he watched his stock dwindle.
He explained: “I was calling all the plant suppliers in the UK and the Netherlands before I finally found a company that could import us.
“There were businesses in Glasgow, but it would have been very expensive and I didn’t want to increase our prices for customers.
“At one point we found ourselves with nothing in the store.
“We would have lost £ 4,000 in a single month if it hadn’t been for government support.”
Reece was forced to adapt his business earlier this year in order to stay open – which he said was important for his mental health.
He said: “From January until the end of the restrictions, we were bringing organic fruits and vegetables so that we could stay open and survive.
“It made us an essential store which was great because I would have been demoralized if I wasn’t working.
“We were on the verge of breaking even, but it helped market our business to a wider audience.
“We won’t be selling fruit and vegetables in the future because we were paying a higher price for them, but it kept us going through a really tough time.”
Reece says prices have increased following Brexit, but thanked customers for their continued support despite the increases.
He added: “Everything is more or less settled now despite the fact that we had to change supplier due to leaving the European Union.
“It was really silly because the only thing that changed was the paperwork, but it led to a huge increase in costs.
“Companies in Europe have had to increase their prices due to new charges and some of our factories have doubled their prices as a result, which we are not happy with.
“I was really worried that our customers wouldn’t pay more, but people still support us and we couldn’t be more grateful for that. ”