Reaction to the EU Referendum vote: from the manufacturers and suppliers

27 June 2016 by
Reaction to the EU Referendum vote: from the manufacturers and suppliers

Following on from last week's momentous vote by the UK electorate to leave the EU, Lisa Jenkins caught up with some of the country's suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and consultants in an effort to understand how the changes will impact the hospitality industry.

Keith Warren, director of the Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) and Simon Frost, chair of CESA issued a joint statement, and said: "In the very early stages of these momentous changes in the UK, we would not expect UK legislation for product manufacturing to deviate from EU standards or directives for a considerable time - if ever.

"The cost of producing to a different standard for the UK would be cost prohibitive."

"The UK [and CESA] will need to become lobbyists in Europe rather than prime policy makers. We will need to get others to do our bidding [Germany, France and Italy] and this will take more time and cost than is currently the case."

Steve Loughton, managing director at Jestic Foodservice Equipment and CESA council committee member, said: "Firstly I'd like to say that I'm not a politician, but following the EU Referendum we find ourselves in a period of high turbulence, and turbulence is never good, especially if you can't see an end result.

"Suddenly we are suffering from the law of unintended consequences, and the Government fallout over the weekend is not good for our country. In terms of our industry, Jestic's goal now is to support our customers, our suppliers and employees. There is a very real possibility that what we are buying from the EU will now cost more. However, I do believe that our currency will settle back.

"I'm confident our suppliers will continue to build equipment to European and global standards as they have always done so. Projects underway will continue but some larger companies may delay investment decisions over the next quarter. Our politicians now need to take serious leadership positions to ensure businesses can be confident they can follow suit.

Andrew Humble, director for professional kitchen design consultancy Humble Arnold Associates, was reluctant to say too much too early, but commented: "What I can say with certainty is that the directors of our business were hoping for a ‘remain' vote on the basis that we have been enjoying strong levels of business growth over the last few years and we were very concerned that a ‘leave' vote could upset our economy's equilibrium.

When asked specifically if the vote would weaken businesses workforces, Iain Munro, managing director of ScoMac Catering Equipment, commented: "We don't see any workforce issue other than we do have plans to develop our shop-floor sheet metal workforce and we know that there are highly skilled, hard-working candidates that come from our European neighbours who we would want to and still do want to consider for these roles when they apply.

"ScoMac's main operation and head office is based in Scotland, so we are also watching with interest the debate going on there around independence and their desire to remain in Europe."

Munro offers the opinion that the result could actually be good for UK based manufacturers for the home market and exporting if the Sterling exchange rate remains low. "The main manufacturers who already supply into the UK will continue to do so but they may have a little more paperwork involved."

Mike Coldicott, director for design and management consultancy, Tricon Foodservice Consultants, said: "Given the current fluidity of the situation it's perhaps premature to comment. We are just grateful for a diverse international client base beyond the UK and the EU which hopefully means we will ride any potential short term domestic commercial impact."

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