Independent sales agent for North of England, Richard Pass of STL Agencies has become something of an EORI evangelist of late, assuring his retail customers that it is not “complicated or costly” to order goods from outside the UK.
“One area that many retailers are not aware of or are still confused by is the new post Brexit EORI requirement,” believes Richard, about the requirement for retailers ordering products that will be sent from outside the UK to quote their EORI number. “So many of my customers haven’t heard of this and it actually is very easy. The chances are if you are already VAT registered it may well be that you already have this number, as invariably it is just your VAT number with three zeros at the end. Alternatively, in a few minutes they can complete a form on the government website which gives them a number to use forever.”
This lack of awareness has come to light for Richard as he represents 3D card publisher Alljoy Design, which is based in Dublin as well as a Swedish-based company that specialises in Christmas products.
Sharing her perspective as a retailer Val Smith, owner of Arnside House in Arnside, Cumbria told PG Buzz: “We wanted to buy the new award winning range from Alljoy Design and fortunately contacted Richard. He talked us through the new EORI system, which we weren’t previously aware of and quickly obtained the number from the government website. It all proved very simple and easy and we are very grateful to Richard and Alljoy Design for bringing it to our attention. The order will be with us any day!”
(The GCA’s Brexit blog (https://www.gca.cards/brexit-updates-dec-2020/) on the association’s website includes all the latest relevant updates from government, including on EOIR.)
Helping flummoxed retailers through the requirements of this post Brexit world is just one of the new aspects of Richard Pass’ life over the last year.
Here, as part of PG Buzz’s series of delving into the lives of agents, Richard reveals what action he has seen on his patch and how he has kept it well tended and the ‘weeds’ at bay…
Tell us about your patch…
“I look after the North of England, with some agencies just on the North East or North West. My agencies are Alljoy Design, Coral & Mint, Dandelion Stationery (NW only), Flame Tree Publishing, Redback Cards (NE only) and Two Little Monkeys.”
Call a spade a spade, what’s the last year been like for you?
“The last 12 months have been tough for everyone, sales are down and even when the shops opened there was uncertainty about the future. The fact that the retailers have remained sane is a testament to their resilience, love of what they do and sheer bloody mindedness. I have huge respect for all of them.”
What have been the green shoots?
“There have been several. Retailers have learned to try new ways to keep trading and these new paths will continue long after the pandemic is over. Consumers have found that their local shops are full of interesting and fun products and will stay as customers.
From the publishers’ point it has given them an opportunity to develop new designs and ranges. Redback has new ranges; Two Little Monkeys has brought out a fabulous male range, along with sympathy; Dandelion has new ranges and designs galore and its personalised cards are proving very popular. Coral & Mint has a brilliant new range in Threads, and Flame Tree keeps on bringing new designs to the retailer. Not to mention jigsaws! Wow, what a success they have been.”
What have been the thorns and weeds?
“Phone calls with several retailers who really struggled to cope have probably been the worst. It was the lack of certainty in the “can we open and if we do will we be shut down again, so can I buy stock or not?” scenarios.”
What has been your ‘plant food/fertiliser’?
“What has pepped my spirits on a personal note, have been the grandkids! The eldest is only four years old, and all three girls keep me on my toes. Meeting up with them has proved difficult due to lockdowns, but Facetime has been brilliant.
Workwise the enthusiasm of the retailers shines through. How can I complain when they have been having such a rough time? And from the publishers, total support for everything!”
What approach have you taken to your ‘garden maintenance’?
“I have been trying to be as proactive as possible without being pushy. The retailers need support not some idiot trying to sell them something! Emails, mailshots, phone calls, texts…basically everything that helps me (and the publishers I represent) stay in front of the retailer. I have just entered the 21st Century with Instagram!”
Your plant life alter ego…
“My favourite tree is the birch. It has a certain elegance; silver shimmers when the sun shines. I particularly like this tree because it thrives in soil that is too damp for other trees, so it has made its way by adapting and making the best of its opportunities and just at the minute I can’t think of a better analogy to life.”
What are your hopes and dreams for 2021?
“A return to normality. I do believe we may never see ‘normal’ as it was before, but I believe there is a genuine spirit of ‘We Can Do This’ in the industry. And on a personal note, that Suzie, my wife and I actually manage to walk the 1,000 miles we set ourselves to do!”
Top: Richard Pass with Heidi Doyle, manager of Thinking of You in Denby Dale, one of his customers.