Business

Brexit: Unilever stockpiles Ben & Jerry's and Magnum ice creams

Magnum ice cream Image copyright Getty Images

Unilever has said it is stockpiling Ben and Jerry's ice cream and Magnum bars ahead of the UK's departure from the European Union.

Chief executive Alan Jope said the consumer goods giant was holding a few weeks' worth of extra stock in case of disruption to supply chains.

It follows admissions of Brexit stockpiling from other firms.

The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March but concern is mounting it will exit without a deal.

Mr Jope said Unilever was also stockpiling deodorant in mainland Europe in case of Brexit-related delays.

The firm's Leeds factory, which makes Sure, Lynx and Dove, supplies the whole of Europe, while its ice creams are produced on the continent.

Mr Jope added that the firm was building up stocks of the materials used to package goods.

"We have built inventory on either side of the Channel," Mr Jope said. "It's weeks of inventory - not months or days.

"If I was in the designer handbag business then I might have built further [inventory] cover but we're not, we are in fast-moving consumer goods and one of the things we have learned is, when you build inventory, it can end up being the wrong mix of product."

Tariff fears

A number of companies have been stockpiling goods ahead of Brexit, including car-parts maker Robert Bosch, luxury goods firm LVMH and French drugmaker Novartis.

Earlier this week, Sainsbury's, Asda and McDonald's warned that stockpiling fresh food was impossible - and that a no-deal Brexit would leave them short of stock.

But the government said it has "well established" ways of working with industry to prevent disruption.

Mr Jope, who succeeded Paul Polman as Unilever's chief executive in November, said the company was preparing for various Brexit scenarios but that a no-deal outcome would be the hardest to manage.

"We desperately hope that we don't end up in a tariff-laden environment," he said.

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