About Us

Our primary goal here at Customs Connect is to deliver real, measurable saving opportunities to all of our clients.

No matter the size or location of our client, or the challenges they present us with – the Customs Connect ethos stays the same:

We focus on unveiling hidden opportunities to save your business money

We achieve this through a variety of specific professional advisory services including Customs Planning, Autonomous Duty Suspensions and Export Control to name just some of our services.

View our Services page here

We develop close working relationships with our clients to obtain the cost saving benefits over a period of time.

Each of our specific services have been developed in partnership with our clients and are tailored to match the needs of each business we work with.

We deliver real, measurable value to our clients

We focus on what’s most important for you and for this to happen, we understand that an ongoing and regular dialogue is essential. Nurturing these business relationships in conjunction with our continued investment into cutting edge customs technology is how we achieve our end result.

View case studies from our existing clients to understand how we have helped companies such as Jaguar Land Rover identify and take advantage of money saving opportunities within their supply chain.

Low-risk, success-based billing

Many of the services we provide are offered on a contingent, success-based fee structure. This means there is minimal initial investment cost when working with us and fees are only ever due when our work delivers actual savings for our clients.

Meet the team

Board members

John Barnsley

Chairman
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John became Customs Connect’s Chairman in 2016 to steer the company through its ambitious plans for growth. A highly experienced director, John was at PwC for over 30 years where his roles included senior partner and Joint Global Director of Operations. John has acted as Non-executive Director and Chairman for a number of private organisations in the US and UK.

Neil Sheppard

CEO
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Neil founded Customs Connect with James O’Neill in 2009. He has comprehensive knowledge in all areas of EU customs planning with particular focus on classification and autonomous duty suspensions. With time served in logistics, industry and Big 4 professional services firms, Neil has built a loyal client portfolio across a number of industry sectors. He has been instrumental in the Customs Connect’s recent expansion across Europe.

Neil has two daughters and recently celebrated his silver wedding anniversary. He enjoys walking his two bearded collie dogs and travel (preferably somewhere warm) when he is not sitting with the prawn sandwich brigade at Old Trafford!

James O’Neill

Director
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James is a founding Director of Customs Connect, starting the business in 2009. With over 15 years’ experience, he has worked both in industry and professional services. James has been instrumental in developing the duty suspension business stream and is considered one of the EU’s foremost experts in this field.

Outside of work James is kept busy with his young family and when the weather permits, can be seen driving around Manchester in one of his not so practical classic cars.

Rob Jenkins

Director
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Prior to joining Customs Connect, Rob operated a successful customs consultancy for 15 years, having previously worked for one of the Big 4 Accountancy firms. Rob is one of the most experienced customs practitioners in the UK and has worked with a wide range of clients, including large multinationals and manufacturing companies on all aspects of customs planning. Rob came in to customs consultancy direct from law school where he specialised in commercial law, supporting his ability to link into the overlapping areas of contracts, intellectual property, tax and legal interpretation.

Rob spends most of his spare time running his three children and two dogs around and following his beloved Liverpool FC.

Team

Gavin Tucker

Director of VAT
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Gavin joined Customs Connect in 2017, having spent most of his VAT advisory career (fast approaching 20 years!) in the Big 4 professional service firms. Prior to this, Gavin qualified as an Auditor. During his career, his relationships have allowed him to work with a wide portfolio of clients from multinational corporations, shipping goods and supplying services around the globe, to local not-for-profit organisations. Gavin’s work encompasses both day to day compliance advice to more complex and strategic transactional advice on supply chains, Brexit, mergers and acquisitions and property.

Gavin is still reluctant to give up playing football and when he is not playing, or injured, he enjoys throwing himself down mountains on two wheels or skis!

Dan Dunford

Head of Recovery Audit, EMEA Territory Manager
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A Recovery Auditor since 1999, Dan joined the industry at the perfect time to gain vital experience from “old school” Recovery Auditors and to apply this knowledge to Emerging Data and IT Technologies. Since 1999 he has played an active part in over 150 audits, recovering circa £70m for clients. As sales leader for Recovery Audit in Europe and the Middle East, he has on-boarded many new clients and used his considerable skill set to deliver fantastic savings and excellence in customer service. Dan has recently expanded our Recovery Audit services to include various Customs Duty projects.

When he is not travelling internationally for work Dan is at home in the English Riviera of Somerset, where he takes pleasure from spending time with his young family, tending to his huge garden and hoping to be able to find the time start flying light aircraft again.

Paul Verrips

Director, Nordics and EU Affairs
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Paul, who joined Customs Connect in 2016, has extensive experience in the areas of trade, customs, supply chain, finance and public affairs. He has previously held management positions in several multinationals in the chemical, software, real estate, and sports industry. Paul has also chaired several trade committees of international organisations in Europe and the USA.

Paul divides his time between Belgium and Sweden and during his spare time enjoys music, the arts and sport.

Alexandra Turner

Head of Export Control
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With approximately 10 years’ experience, Alexandra has worked in several industry sectors and professional services both in the US and the UK. She has a comprehensive knowledge of US and EU export controls and sanctions laws and regulations (including extra-territorial application).

A US native, Alexandra has now been living in the UK for seven years and during this time has developed a passion for watching live cricket.

Bert Van Leeuwen

Senior Customs Manager
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Bert joined Customs Connect’s Alkmaar (Netherlands) Office in February 2017. Before that, he worked at Gerlach as a Customs Consultant and has over 20 years’ experience in this field, working in industry in logistics, customs and purchasing departments of numerous organisations. In addition, he acts as advisor and trainer for the Dutch shipping council Evofenedex, plus he writes regular articles for publisher SDU.

During his spare time, Bert plays guitar in a jazz big band, enjoys walking and episodes of classic BBC sitcom Fawlty Towers!

Han Baauw

Director, Europe BV
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Based in our Alkmaar, Netherlands office, Han is a qualified tax lawyer specialising in customs and international trade. He has more than 20 years of experience gained in Big 4 and Law firms as well as in the business environment. Due to his operational and logistic knowledge and experience, Han is a seasoned expert in pinpointing areas of improvement and savings in clients’ customs processes. A father of four football-playing children, Han spends his spare time running around the pitch as a youth-team referee.

Monica Ryder

Senior Manager
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Monica joined Customs Connect in 2017. She is a Senior Manager with over 16 years consultancy experience in customs duty in the Big 4 environment. During this time, she has gained an in-depth knowledge of import/export procedures and customs duty regimes. She has excellent technical knowledge, with the ability to interpret and apply legislation and case law to ensure compliance and to minimise duty liability.

Outside of work, Monica enjoys spending time with her family, travelling and live music.

Jo Bowman

Customs Consultant
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Jo has been a team member of Customs Connect since October 2011. Based in our Surrey office, she primarily deals with all aspects of duty repayment, classification and autonomous duty suspensions work for our clients.

Jo is married with a new baby and has a nutty chocolate Labrador to keep her busy and active.

Nick Collins

Data Manager, EMEA
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Nick first trained in Recovery audit in 2003 , where he found immediate success recovering over £200k for a client in his first week. His new career cemented, Nick went on to audit over 100 companies across EMEA, including delivering the first successful Recovery Audit in the UAE. Nick Joined Customs Connect in 2016, opening new audits across EMEA and extending his data expertise across the wider group; as well as clocking up an average 4,500 air miles a week.

When not at 38,000 feet, Nick enjoys Formula 1, spending time with his family and has seen his fitness increase with the recent addition of his Cocker Spaniel puppy, Charlie.

Monika Puchalska

Customs Consultant
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Monika has a strong track record of success in the hospitality and shipping industries in both Poland, London and Manchester. Her initial career in accountancy has armed her with a strong financial sense and meticulous eye for detail. Monika’s drive, determination and focus on delivering excellence make her a great asset to Customs Connect.

When she is not pushing herself to deliver value for her clients, Monika enjoys spending time with her husband Sebastian and young son Sebi and pushing herself to achieve a different set of targets at the gym…a real-life Wonder Woman!

Illustrations by Philip Wills