Luthier Steve Toon slams impact of Brexit: “My European sales have dropped off by 50%”

Luthier Steve Toon slams impact of Brexit: “My European sales have dropped off by 50%”

Eight years ago today, Britain woke up to the news that the country had voted to leave the European Union. Campaigners might have been pushing to ‘take back control’, but nobody could have foreseen the detrimental impact that Brexit had on the music industry. Ask any guitarist in a touring band about the dreaded carnets, for example, and they might break out in a rash.

READ MORE: What does Brexit mean for UK musicians?

It’s also had an impact on the cost of importing and exporting. Luthier Steve Toon – who runs Toon Guitars – recently spoke to the BBC about how that has changed his business operations. He says that Brexit has increased the time it takes to export his high-end guitars has shot up from 48 hours to three weeks.
Furthermore, the cost of exporting has quadrupled – from £60 to £240 – with items frequently now arriving late and “trashed”.
“It’s become actually quite difficult to trade. My European sales have dropped off by 50%,” he says.
The situation hasn’t been helped by the complex customs declarations couriers have to now fill out. They also have to pay tariffs on Toon’s guitars, meaning many have also refused his trade completely.
Another major issue Toon, who is based in Gloucester, has encountered has related to sourcing the specialist woods he uses for his guitars.
“The government and Brexiteers promised less red tape and that we would be in control. In reality this has not transpired to be true,” he tells “There is now more red tape. It has become very difficult for me to bring the specialist woods that I use in my guitars into the country and my European suppliers tell me they cannot get courier companies to bring these goods even with the correct paperwork.
“I am the only person working in my company and I don’t have the resources to employ a specialist freight forwarder so I am at a bit of a loss as to what to do. What I really want is for a sensible government to look at ways of improving trade with Europe.”
Despite the issues that Brexit has caused, Toon adds that he doesn’t believe the UK should rejoin the EU. Though he voted Remain, he believes that “on the basis that the country decided to leave, albeit by a small margin, there seems little point in jumping backwards and forwards” by going back on the results of the referendum.
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