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Only 12% of leading UK retailers have planned for Brexit: TLT

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Only 12% of leading UK retailers have put plans in place in case the UK votes to leave the European Union (EU) next month, a new study suggests.

Retail analyst Conlumino asked the top 100 UK retailers, in research carried out on behalf of law firm TLT, whether they had made provisions ahead of a possible Brexit result.

But although relatively few have planned for the exit, 67% believe that such a result would make exporting more difficult, and 54% thought imports would be more expensive. Almost half (48%) said leaving would make it harder to hire staff, and 18% pointed to currency fluctuations, while 14% highlighted concerns about growing labour costs and 22% thought trade would be subdued as a result of lower consumer confidence.

Asked how they valued the UK’s membership of the EU, 46% thought it was quite or very helpful, and 30% thought it was harmful, while 24% said it made no difference.

Perran Jervis, TLT head of retail, said: “Although the potential implications are a concern for some retailers, preparations for Brexit are clearly not top of the priority list just yet. With the lack of specifics around what a post-EU world might look like and the potential for a reasonably lengthy transition period this is perhaps not surprising.”

The TLT Retail Survey 2016 revealed that the National Living Wage is actually the biggest issue for an overwhelming proportion of retailers (94%) with gender pay reporting also high on the list.

Jervis said: “It is notable that the two most significant regulatory and legal burdens identified by retailers, the National Living Wage and gender pay reporting, are essentially ‘homegrown’ issues and have nothing to do with the EU. But, they are clearly front of mind for retailers because they will have an immediate impact on margin and will therefore affect how retailers operate their businesses to mitigate that impact.”

The Conlumino research was carried out in April and May 2016 and will form part of the TLT/Conlumino annual Retail Growth Strategies Report, to be published in June.

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