The below is an opinion piece on the EU Referendum by Adam Davidson, Director of BoConcept in Scotland
I would like to take a look at the implications for businesses in the UK if we decide to leave the EU. My business is BoConcept, a Danish high end interiors company. We have a 7,500 sq feet store on Sauchiehall Street and are in the middle of negotiating on a unit in Edinburgh city centre. We put our pending Aberdeen store on hold due to the price of oil and the impact on the local economy.
Every single item we sell is designed and supplied by BoConcept in Denmark. As part of the EU our admin is incredibly simple. We click a button on the customer order and three weeks or six weeks later, depending on the item, the stock arrives in our warehouse in Glasgow. In 14 years we have had one order delayed by Customs. We can operate the entire business with the full time equivalent of 2 people covering every aspect of the business administration allowing the rest of the team to focus on customer services and growing the business.
I have questions on the implications of a vote to leave the EU:
- How long will trade agreements take to set up with all the countries we currently trade with including the non EU countries we trade with now under EU agreements? I have read 2 years; I have read 10 years?
- It has been suggested to me that the remaining EU members have anti-EU movements in their own countries. The EU may see a benefit in making the UK leaving an artificially difficult process to clip the wings of these anti-EU campaigns.
- Although the falling value of the pound will help exporters it will increase importing costs so it can be a good or abad thing for the economy. Stability is more important than the blue of the currency to the economy but longer term low values are bad for my business.
- How long will it take to enable travel to Denmark and other EU countries? I normally go on holiday to France. This year, for a change it is The Netherlands. Travel and importing and exporting will become more difficult for a while.
- Over the last 2 years I have had much more experience of hospitals than I would have liked. The staff come from all over the world. If on leaving the EU, the plan is to send them all back, who will run our hospitals. If agreement can be reached to make sure they can continue to work here, what is the point in leaving the EU? It certainly won’t reduce EU immigration.
- What is the problem with EU migrants? UK government figures have long proved they pay in more than they take out and often retire back home so don’t cost us as much in their old age. It isn’t cost, is it good old fashioned racism?
- Am I misunderstanding the sovereignty issue? If we want to trade with other countries we need to meet their criteria for exporting goods into their country. If we want to import goods from other countries their product needs to meet our standards. Surely it is common sense to keep our regulations standardised. The only alternative, apart from chaos is just not to trade. Not a realistic option.
- In the UK the fire retardant regulations on sofas are much stricter than the rest of the EU. The UK has chosen to set our own rules on this area. We can do so when it suits us. The rules in Germany are much stricter on the amount of formaldehyde in furniture. They have very sensibly tightened their rules. Choice does exist.
Let’s cut to the chase. This EU referendum is a farce. I have tried to be even handed but it needs said. We have one group of the Westminster elite arguing with another group of Westminster elite over a largely racist agenda entirely created by media hype over UKIP. UKIP have been over represented in our media for years. This circus was driven by the Conservative Party running scared over the perceived threat of UKIP taking Tory votes and maybe even more Tory MPs defecting.
The reality is, my business and I have nothing to gain and potentially loads to lose by leaving the EU, any business people who dig deep enough will discover similar. I am positive there are enough intelligent people who can think for themselves left in this country. I am looking forward to Friday morning when I can put this distraction aside and get on with building a successful business.