A Chat with Thomas Sommer, Development Director at Customs Clearance Company: ChannelPorts

Tom Sommer

ChannelPorts are an established customs agent serving the road freight market. The company has been clearing goods through the customs process since 1974 and has managed many changes in the regulatory process, often being at the forefront of developing procedures that are adopted nationally.

We have combined our fifty years of experience, with a new, intuitive digital platform, CustomsPro. The platform replaces traditionally manual methods of data entry and enables customers to declare their customs in 12 minutes, down from as much as 12 hours.

CustomsPro provides live data to importers, exporters, hauliers and forwarders on the clearance status of their shipments, automatic notification of clearance, and a complete history and record of shipments to comply with HMRC regulations.

We know some of our customers prefer speaking to experienced customs agents, whereas others wanted a simple digital platform to handle some of the heavy lifting. That’s why we offer both.
ChannelPorts - Overview, Competitors, and Employees | Apollo.io

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

The CustomsPro software was launched earlier this year as a response to the tumultuous status of customs over the past 12 months. The combination of Brexit and the pandemic have led to the customs position that has not seen such levels of change and uncertainty in over fifty years. As of January 2021, the UK became a 3rd country to the EU which now requires the mandating of all goods entering or leaving.

This, coupled with COVID restrictions and lockdowns, has led to a huge uptick in e-commerce, meaning items that may once have been bought in-store became part of this ever-more-complex customs process that many businesses, especially SMEs, aren’t equipped to deal with alone.

CustomsPro is such a viable solution because it provides an answer to these complications. Automating the entire process will save companies, both in the UK and the EU, time on their processes. We want this process to be as easy as it can be for businesses recognising the importance of having customs specialists on standby for more pressing matters rather than taking up their time on data entry tasks.


How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

We were very fortunate during this period. Unlike a lot of industries, the combination of Brexit and the pandemic resulted in a huge increase of demand for our customs agents. We were actually so busy during this period that we decided to pause our plans with the platform launch as we wanted to ensure our customers were being supported.

Something I’m particularly proud of is the fact our employee retention remained strong during this time, especially as there was so much demand for customs specialists.

What can we hope to see from ChannelPorts in the future?

Our mission is to make the customs process simple and speedy for all types of businesses involved in the customs process, whether that be multi-national manufacturers or cottage industry businesses. As such we will continue to invest in our CustomsPro platform, saving organisations time, money and ensuring they remain compliant.

We will also be investing in our agents to ensure they continue to provide the best customer service for our customers.

Alongside this, we’re passionate about giving back to our community. Our goals go far beyond profit motive and we have a responsibility within our wider community. As such we’ve taken part in Cookham Wood’s ex-offender programme and look to renew that this year helping to give people a new start.