Department store chain Debenhams has been forced to close its digital Irish business to avoid tariffs now required under the Brexit deal.

Debenhams’ Irish website was shut down on Christmas Eve, the same day that the new trade deal between the UK and the EU was announced, according to ITV. 

Irish customers of the department store chain were told Debenhams could no longer deliver orders to the Republic of Ireland “due to uncertainty around post-Brexit trade rules”.

While under the new deal trade between the UK and the EU remains tariff-free, changes to the rules of origin now mean that items imported into the UK and then sold on into the EU are not exempt from tariffs because they don’t originate in either trading bloc. 

The finance boss of one UK fashion retailer told Retail Week the rules of origin changes were “almost the equivalent of no deal for fashion retail. There are no differences between this deal and no deal”.

Tesco, Marks & Spencer, Dixons Carphone, Argos, B&Q, Boots are among the major retailers that are going through their product lines to establish how many of them will now be subject to tariffs from the EU, ITV reported. 

H&M and River Island both said they expect to pay penalty tariffs on some clothing sent between their UK and European businesses.

The British Retail Consortium said: “At least 50 of our members, all of them large retailers, face potential tariffs for re-exporting goods to the EU.

“We are working with our members and are seeking dialogue with the government and the EU on longer-term solutions to mitigate some of the effects.”

Earlier in the week, the Food and Drink Federation said the rules of origin changes were forcing food suppliers to cancel the delivery of produce to Ireland. 

While the changes won’t directly affect the prices being paid by customers at the tills, it will add additional costs to retailers and EU suppliers and customers. 

The new deal has also affected retailers with businesses in Northern Ireland. Sainsbury’s stores in the region are currently stocking less than 100 Spar lines on their shelves as part of a contingency deal while it works out what the full details of the deal mean.