The possibility of a no deal Brexit has again raised the spectre of grey importing. Once a common feature across a number of consumer sectors the term describes products imported to this country and distributed at lower price than those of the official distributor channels.
The shooting industry was especially rife with the practice in the 1990s. In those days barely an issue of the industry publication Gun Trade News appeared which did not feature one brand owner or distributor bemoaning the impact the practice was having on their business. One frequently quoted individual was the managing director of the UK part of one of the Europe’s best-known shotgun brands.
Interviewed by Gun Trade News in 1998 he said: “These people (grey importers) are killing our industry and leaving the buyers of these guns with no warranty. We need to do everything possible to end what is happening”. Two months later the magazine ran another item, this time featuring a Canadian distributor complaining that shotguns grey imported from the UK had been turning up on his side of the Atlantic. The libel laws then prevented the magazine and alas us now revealing that further investigation uncovered that the shotguns had been sourced via the same disgruntled UK managing director quoted in the original article.