Importing and distributing beer from Belgium into the UK
Hi, I realize this website is export oriented and it may seem daft to ask an import related question, but the folks here seem to be more knowledgeable and more helpful than on other business websites / forums so here goes.
I have noticed a lack of offer of higher end, quality Belgian beers among UK retailers and service providers (pubs etc). There is some offer online, however the prices websites selling Belgian beers are three, four times higher than what a buyer in a European supermarket would pay, without even including the shipping costs.
Even in upmarket bars, gastropubs etc in my region (Manchester) the offer seems to be extremely poor, and the prices extremely high. The market for beer tends to be moving in the direction of more quality concerned customers. There is more attention given to craft and specialist beers.
If I can find a source for the beers at a fair price, I intend to distribute to local independent pubs (as I understand I would need to find the ones that are not tied in with contracts with a particular brewery) and perhaps to specialist wine and beer shops. I do not intend to sell to off licences as I doubt there would be much demand from their customers.
As I would not have sales exceeding £79,000 per year I would not need to be VAT registered. However, if I purchase from a Belgium supplier, would they have paid VAT in Belgium already? If I then distribute to a pub in the UK, would paying VAT be their responsibility? Would VAT be charged twice by Belgian and UK authorities on my product? What about alcohol duty? The HMRC page says that if I import alcohol from another country it is the seller’s responsibility to ensure UK alcohol duty is paid, but I doubt that producers, wholesalers in Belgium know or care that they need to pay an alcohol duty when shipping to me. How would this work?
Any advice, opinions and of course any constructive criticism is very much appreciated.