Interview – UK – Benelux

Three questions to John Peeters, Managing Director Gerlach Benelux & UK

24.10.2019

The headquarters of the Port of Antwerp.
Picture of the company headquarters of the port of Antwerp. Here, too, people are thinking about the future economic relations with Great Britain.

Especially as Managing Director of Gerlach in the Benelux countries and the United Kingdom, you can’t complain about boredom in times of Brexit. We talked to John Peeters about the market, new developments and his team.

What key trends and developments do you observe in the market that you are responsible for? 

The markets have a high uncertainty about the developments around Brexit. UK, Belgium and the Netherlands are affected in a special way. UK for obvious reasons, but also Belgium and the Netherlands have the ports that are the starting point for many goods being shipped into the UK and not only the ports, but also the companies performing brokerage services need to prepare to be able to the changes and to service the upcoming volumes.

In the last months, Gerlach has come in contact with many companies in preparation for Brexit. We were able to convince many of them of our profound knowledge and capabilities in customs related topics and they are now approaching us also with non-Brexit related tasks in the field of customs.

"In the age of technology for our customer and us – speed and simplification – is most important."

Apart from Brexit, the preparations for the full range of possibilities of the Union Customs Code (UCC) have been followed strongly by our customers. For example, we have helped them to apply for AEO and for the single European license or consulted them on tariffing. To simplify the clearances for our customers that are based in multiple countries, we have further developed our Customs Control Tower, to help them navigate the world of customs in a simplified and compliant way.

In the age of technology for our customer and us – speed and simplification – is most important. Customers expect a response on their requests in most of the time the same day. Waiting too long means you lose the opportunity or the business. Everything is just one-click away.

Trucks on the ferry to Dover.
In the event of a disorderly exit, major blockades and delays in crossing the British Channel Tunnel in Dover are to be expected. Routes via the Benelux could be an alternative.

Are there any new regulatory events – Customs related – happening in your environment that customers should know about? 

Generic periodic declaration will stop for NL and be replaced by a new way of doing such kinds of declarations. Companies that work with it, will face a lot of changes and acquire new permits. It might even have an impact on their business operations and on their IT landscape. Gerlach has started to consult customers on how best to apply the changes.

One event in Rotterdam that takes place every year is really worth mentioning, the Trade Compliance Congress. At this event new development in the Customs IT field will be discussed.

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What makes you very proud of your team right now?

In our team we have created a culture that promotes cooperation and innovation – and I am very proud of that.

The colleagues support each other very strongly and they are always full of curiosity about new topics. Many pilots – related to robotics and automation – we usually start here in my team. I realize that the culture we collectively have here binds employees to the company and helps us to keep our promise to the customer – which is speed and simplification.

We also try to pass on our knowledge through cooperation with universities. In collaboration with Fontys Venlo University of Applied Sciences we are e.g. developing a game on Customs to better explain the complex topic of Customs through gamification.

A photo of John Peeters, Head of Benelux.

John Peeters

Managing Director Gerlach Benelux & UK

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