The UK’s largest drinks logistics firm has placed a hiatus on collections from EU countries until the government confirms what will happen on March 29.

JF Hillebrand said it will not plan any collections for the next 48 hours or until the government indicates what will happen with Brexit.

It said this is the “only responsible course of action” due to “continued uncertainty over whether the UK will leave the EU with or without a deal”.

The firm employs 230 people in the UK, has a turnover of £170 million and moves 125,000 containers a year, with bases in Thurrock, Southampton, Glasgow and Dover.

It ships beers, wines and spirits for all the UK supermarkets, plus a number of wholesalers, independent retailers, convenience chains and pub and restaurant groups.

It sent out a customer advisory note today notifying the trade that it has decided to hold fire on planning any further imports.

“If there is an extension to the Brexit deadline then we estimate that the backlog of orders will begin to clear by April 9,” it said.

Firms have already been advised that it would not be prudent to start any shipments that would not conclude before 11pm on March 29.

That remains the current date for Brexit, but Theresa May has twice failed to push her divorce deal through parliament and it has also voted against crashing out of the bloc without a deal. Plans are now afoot to request a delay, but uncertainty reigns and the extreme unpredictability has forced JF Hillebrand into drastic action.