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Why has flash sales retailer Veepee quit the UK?

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Flash sales retailer Veepee has stopped trading in the UK, blaming uncertainty over Brexit.

The company, formerly known as Vente Privée, stopped selling to UK customers on 5 November, according to a notice on its website. It claimed that uncertainty “surrounding member status of the UK in the EU” had made it unable to maintain “high-quality standards”.

“This decision has been taken with a heavy heart and we hope to be able to return sometime in the future when we can once again guarantee a consistent standard of customer experience,” the company said in a note.

Veepee offers short-term sales of three to five days to its 50 million website members. The company takes end-of-season and overstock products from major brands and sells them at discounts of up to 70%.

As Veepee only has logistics centres in France, a sudden closure of the border between the UK and France would add new customs hurdles for imports and make it hard to support this quick turnaround business model.

Veepee had previously announced its exit from the UK back in March, when the UK faced an exit date on 31 March. The departure was later delayed, firstly until mid-April and then until the end of October. It has since been extended until 31 January 2020.

However, Veepee then emailed to say that “Brexit madness” had taken over its teams who had “by mistake” informed customers of a sales shutdown, pledging it would continue selling to UK customers. It was unclear whether the inconsistency arose from a change of heart or an initial mistake as claimed.

The change of heart could be due to the change in the Brexit debate in the UK. Unlike that of his predecessor Theresa May, prime minister Boris Johnson’s deal leaves open the possibility of the UK exiting its customs union with the EU within a year of the deal being passed. May’s deal would have kept the UK in a customs union indefinitely.

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