The owner of online Champagne retailer The Champagne Collection has said the “nightmare” of post-Brexit paperwork is the biggest factor behind his decision to close the business.

Pete Pedrick said the site will cease trading at the end of this month, 12 years after it started.

Selling artisan or grower Champagne has always been a challenge, it’s a tough ask,” he told Drinks Retailing. “You’re up against the Grand Marques in terms of product, and the supermarkets in terms of attracting customers. My business was niche in both respects, but those challenges were made increasingly more difficult by Brexit, and particularly the constant addition of new legislation, the uncertainty that brings – which hampers planning or setting strategy – and often, the timing of that legislation.”

Pedrick gave the example of the introduction of new labelling requirements where a UK Food Business Operator (FBO), responsible for ensuring all legal requirements are met, now needs to be identified on packaging.

“That was declared on December 19, 2023, and for us, having recently set out a strategy to uncover some new limited edition/special cuvée Champagnes, that strategy was then unworkable. We may only want a few cases of each of those Champagnes to build a very exclusive portfolio, but producers will not develop labels specifically for us in such small quantities. Can we add a label ourselves? Well, yes possibly, but the cost then goes up.”

Pedrick said costs also increased with new importing procedures, and he had to employ a third party agent to help.

“Pre Brexit, importing was easy, post Brexit it’s a complete costly time-consuming nightmare,” he said. “Costs up, time frames up, none of it makes sense simply because none of it adds any value anywhere in the chain. The big boys swallow all this but us small independent importers are slowly suffocating.”

He said Brexit had been the “single driving factor” behind his business struggling and now closing.

“The people making decisions that affect business like mine are clueless about the impact their decisions are having,” he added.

Pedrick also said his online business wasn’t as big as he had hoped.

“Getting traffic to your site is harder and more costly than people think. Type in Champagne or anything like a GM brand to Google and the first page will be the same options returned every time. We analysed this, and getting to a point of landing on page one on a search quickly wipes out profit.”

Pedrick said he hopes to continue sharing his love for Champagne through writing about his experiences.