Brexit the wrong fit for English fancy dress firm

Kuwait Times - - BUSINESS -

GAINS­BOR­OUGH, Eng­land:

With Christ­mas mu­sic blar­ing, staff at English fancy dress com­pany Smiffys are stuff­ing elf out­fits and Santa Claus suits into boxes to send to clients across Europe. Be­fore long, the head­quar­ters of the 122-year-old fam­ily business will be head­ing to the Nether­lands too - a sign of how un­cer­tainty over Bri­tain’s exit from the Euro­pean Union is forc­ing some com­pa­nies to re­think their plans. The com­pany, based in Lin­colnshire, cen­tral Eng­land, says it has been badly hit by the fall of the pound since Bri­tons voted for Brexit in June, be­cause it im­ports most of its prod­ucts from man­u­fac­tur­ers in China.

Smiffys, which says it ex­ports to 42 coun­tries and has an an­nual turnover of £56 mil­lion ($70.5 mil­lion), is also con­cerned about the lack of clar­ity on when Bri­tain will trig­ger the di­vorce process from the EU and whether com­pa­nies will be able to ac­cess the bloc’s tar­iff-free sin­gle mar­ket post-Brexit. “We can­not af­ford to wait on a wing and a prayer for the gov­ern­ment to ne­go­ti­ate some­thing,” said Di­rec­tor El­liott Peck­ett. “If there are no deals in place prior to us pulling out then we will be faced with ex­port­ing 30-40 per­cent of our sales to Europe, which will carry a tar­iff that will make us un­com­pet­i­tive.”

He de­clined to say when the firm would shift its base to the Nether­lands. It is also open­ing a dis­tri­bu­tion site in Ger­many next week, and has of­fices in Aus­tralia and the United States. Smiffys cur­rently em­ploys dozens of non-Bri­tish EU na­tion­als among its 250 staff in the UK, and Peck­ett com­plained at the lack of clar­ity from mem­bers of par­lia­ment or the gov­ern­ment about whether they would have the right to stay. “We’ve had ab­so­lutely no com­mit­ment from any MPs or gov­ern­ment agen­cies or bod­ies to say the jobs of those peo­ple are safe and that they can con­tinue to live and work in the UK.” —Reuters

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