Up to 50 jobs are at risk at a logistics company after it revealed plans to close its North Staffordshire warehouse and move to Belgium – amid over concerns about Brexit.
Avnet Logistics wants to close its distribution centre on Lymedale Business Park, in Newcastle, and move operations to one of its existing facilities in Tongeren, Belgium.
Bosses say the plans come in response to their suppliers’ ‘desire’ to have work moved to mainland Europe because of the uncertainties around Brexit.
The company is now preparing to launch a consultation period with around 50 affected employees.
Avnet is a global technology solutions business with headquarters in Arizona, USA.
It has dozens of warehouses across the world and employs in the region of 15,000 staff.
Its Newcastle distribution centre handles products for Avnet’s Abacus and Silica divisions.
A company spokesman said: “While no official decision has been made, Avnet is considering shifting its work from its Newcastle-under-Lyme distribution centre to another existing facility in Tongeren, Belgium.
“This is in response to our suppliers’ desire to have work transitioned to mainland Europe because of the uncertainties around Brexit.
“We are looking to start the collective consultation period with our employees to discuss the proposals before any firm decisions are made.
“This will enable us to assess all possibilities and to mitigate impact in order to provide the best possible outcomes for our employees if the decision is made to consolidate work in Belgium.”
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The UK left the European Union at 11pm on January 31, 2020 and entered a transition period that is due to run until the end of the year.
However the transition period may be extended by up to two years if the UK agrees to an extension before June 30, 2020 to allow the UK and the EU more time to reach a trade deal.
That would mean that the transition period would continue for up to two years and that the UK would have to continue to abide by many of the EU’s rules.
At the moment, the UK government has ruled out of extending the Brexit transition period, but final talks are due to take place in the coming days.
Sara Williams, chief executive of Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce has described the announcement from Avnet as ‘very sad news’.
She said: “Avnet have been members of the Chamber for many years and as such we have a great working relationship with them processing export documentation for goods being shipped all over the world. The potential closure of this business is very sad news indeed for the local economy.”