Major UK retailer Dunelm halts home deliveries to NI sparking Brexit speculation

The Dunelm store in north Belfast/Newtownabbey, one of five in Northern IrelandThe Dunelm store in north Belfast/Newtownabbey, one of five in Northern Ireland
The Dunelm store in north Belfast/Newtownabbey, one of five in Northern Ireland
A large UK homeware business has halted deliveries to Northern Ireland, leading a number of people to speculate that it is due to Brexit.

Dunelm – based in Leicestershire and selling everything from curtains to clocks to saucepans – said that shipping to Northern Ireland is currently “paused”.

Meanwhile deliveries in England, Scotland, and Wales are still proceeding; last night the News Letter was able to book deliveries of a duvet to addresses in Swansea, Glasgow, and Liverpool – but not to Belfast.

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It comes as the Brexit transition period is due to expire on Friday, meaning the NI Protocol will take effect.

This essentially keeps NI in the EU Single Market and means customs checks must be done on some goods arriving into the Province from GB.

Dunelm has five Northern Irish stores – north Belfast, south-west Belfast, Ballymena, Coleraine, and Londonderry – all of which are now closed due to Covid-19.

The explanations Dunelm has given for halting deliveries are vague.

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Under a section about coronavirus restrictions, its website says the firm is “taking time to pause our home deliveries and make some improvements”.

A number of customers complained to the firm online.

Responding to them via Twitter yesterday, Dunelm said: “Sadly due to government restrictions we aren’t accepting any new home delivery orders to Northern Ireland to avoid disappointing anyone while we work on our service improvements.”

It then re-directed people to a non-existent web page.

The News Letter learned of the disruption thanks to UUP Lisburn councillor Jennifer Palmer.

“Went online to make a purchase from Dunelm,” she wrote on Twitter last night.

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“Postcode in, and told NI currently suspended from receiving postal orders! Poor service from one of my favourite outlets...

“Big price hike coming soon me thinks. Brexit begins to hurt.”

Many other people responded, echoing her belief that this was the result of Brexit.

Another disappointed customer pressed the firm for answers, saying: “Is this due to lockdown restrictions (meaning it will likely only be six weeks) or because of the UK’s exit from the EU?

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“It would be great if your NI customers could actually get clarification & a time frame.”

No answer was received at time of writing.

The News Letter contacted a PR firm working for Dunelm to ask for clarity on the reason why shipping has ceased.

The company declined to comment.

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Alistair Bushe