Licensed trade responds to ‘momentous’ Brexit vote

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After the historic vote to leave the European Union, reactions are coming in from across the bar, pub and general hospitality sector. While it is too early to speculate on the impact on jobs and businesses, Brexit has been received with shock by many in the bar sector, but trade bodies urge operators to remain calm and plan for the future.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers, says: “The EU referendum will, in time, prove momentous. However, for the moment, business will and must continue as normal.

“In the months ahead, while the impact of the decision unfolds, the ALMR will work closely with the Government and its agencies, to protect the commercial interests of our members.

“We are reassured to hear from the Governor of the Bank of England that he is fully prepared to back the UK economy and support British business and that clear messages should reassure consumers, investors and operators.

“While the uncertainties that will result from the referendum’s outcome are unwelcome, the fact is that the UK has spoken about an issue that it holds close to its heart. From here, all parties must move forward in a manner that best serves the UK’s citizens – our teams and our guests as well as our businesses, including the pubs, clubs and restaurants that remain at the heart of our society.”

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, adds: “It is vital that the Government acts quickly to secure economic stability and protect consumer confidence. We will be vigilant to ensure the Brexit negotiations do not harm our exports abroad and the competitive position of beer and pubs in Britain.”

Peter Ducker, chief executive of the Institute of Hospitality, says: “The nation has spoken and we have to live with the outcome. The great and good have already called for stability and of course we echo that sentiment. The Hospitality industry has demonstrated its resilience time and again, and will I am sure, do so now.

“In the short term, hospitality in the UK may prosper as the weaker pound makes us a more affordable destination and more Brits choose to stay at home – if it ever stops raining. Longer term, a major concern has to be for our workforces given that we have a long history of recruiting from Europe.

“Most importantly, the Government and those involved in negotiating our future place in the world must bear hospitality in mind. When measured by numbers employed, tax take, and contribution to GDP, ours is a major industry. In many parts of the UK it is the lifeblood of the economy. It is vital that the impact of new trade arrangements on hospitality are considered by those at the negotiating table.

“Our members who work internationally will be watching the UK situation unfold with interest. We will be monitoring their reactions both from within the EU and outside.”

Ufi Ibrahim, CEO of the British Hospitality Association (BHA), says: “The EU referendum question represented a profound moment for the future of our industry. Hospitality and tourism benefits from a flourishing economy and any level of uncertainty will have an impact. The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union is the beginning of a process which could take years.”

On Monday (June 27), the BHA is convening its members, industry and political leaders to discuss economic and political ramifications in the short term. “We will be framing a plan to ensure that we have a seat at the table on all negotiations including taxation, immigration and regulation,” Ufi adds.

“As we go through this process, the BHA will call upon every politician in this country to do all they can to guard the strong reputation that our industry has built representing a hospitable and welcoming country all around the world. Our industry is one of the key drivers of exports, prosperity and the fourth largest employer supporting 4.5m jobs.”

The UK and its hospitality industry face a “period of ambiguity” ahead of activation of Article 50 of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty to leave the EU, says Craig Allen, co-founder of The Change Group, a leading recruitment agency for the hospitality industry. “Over the next few months there will be much speculation and many ideas of what will or should happen. The recruitment industry will be effected in some sectors, notably finance, though we believe the hospitality market will stay relatively stable.

“The foreign nationals in the UK should not worry as it is unlikely their status will change but we may see a short-term influx of EU nationals coming into the UK before any potential changes are announced.”

More reactions will be added to this article as we receive them.

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