Industry has reacted with mixed opinions following the shock news that Britain has voted to leave the European Union.
It was announced that the country had voted 52 per cent in favour of leaving the European Union, compared to 48 per cent who voted to remain.
In the immediate aftermath of the vote, Health Food Business spoke to key industry organisations.
The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said there was a need for stability for UK small business, following news of the result and the resignation of Prime Minister, David Cameron.
Mike Cherry, National Chairman at the FSB, said: “The events of the last 24 hours have been momentous and the effects have already been seen on the markets. Clearly the EU Referendum debate has been contentious, but we now call on the Government and all parties to bring stability for the business community.
“FSB calls on the Government for clarity on what these decisions now mean for business, including how businesses will have access to the single market and the free movement of people and trade. Nearly a quarter of FSB members export, with the majority exporting to the single market. Access to the single market means access to 500 million potential consumers, more than 26 million businesses and is worth 11 trillion euros. We call on the Government for clarity on the impact to smaller firms who export wider afield through EU FTA agreements.”
He added: “These are crucial questions that need to be answered swiftly to ensure the UK’s 5.4 million small business confidence does not fall any further, which is already at the lowest levels since 2013.This includes clarity over the practical implications of this result on how smaller firms do business.
FSB will continue to be a constructive partner in any upcoming negotiations, ensuring the voice of smaller firms is heard loud and clear.”
Graham Keen, HFMA Executive Director, told Health Food Business: “Like most people, I am extremely surprised by this result. And like everyone else, we will now evaluate the implications of this decision for our members and this industry. I have said all along that we should not expect to see any immmediate changes, whatever the outcome, so this should now be a period of calm reflection and not hasty decisions. There will, of course, be some impact on the future development of legislation affecting this industry and the HFMA will as always be there to guide its members in a changing time.”
Consumers for Health Choice has also commented, with Chairman, Michael Peet, saying:
“After one of the longest campaigns in memory, it’s helpful to our members that the UK has reached a decision on EU membership, bringing to an end a protracted period of uncertainty. There will be implications to consumer choice in vitamin and mineral supplements from this vote to leave, particularly in terms of how it will affect regulatory regimes governing the sector in the UK. CHC will be closely monitoring what these implications are and will ensure that the consumer voice is heard in any future discussions over the laws that govern our access to safe supplements.”
In a statement from the National Association of Health Stores (NAHS), Chairman, Gary Trickett, commented: “With this result, we can now move forward in creating a UK power house that can take on the world. The NAHS calls on the UK Government to review unnecessary, burdensome EU legislations that affect UK retailers detrimentally along with UK based issues like unfair business rates and the minimum wage. As Napoleon once said, the UK is a nation of shopkeepers, we want to be the backbone of the British economy so we will be pressing the Government to review unwanted legislation and replace them with a more business friendly model that enables this nation of shopkeepers to get on with it without drowning in red tape!”
A statement from the Irish Association of Health Stores (IAHS) to Health Food Business said: “The leave decision has huge implications for Irish retailers and possibly even greater implications for the scores of UK-based companies who supply the Irish market. While it’s not a time for panic and the timescales for actual change are now the new uncertainty, UK-based distributors will have to start thinking and talking strategies with their Irish partners.
“Non EU-based brands which use the UK as their distribution hub for Ireland will need to consider the consequences carefully. The IAHS will be carrying out one of our primary rolls for members in attempting to create clarity and certainty and this decision makes this doubly difficult. The dust will settle and a new economic landscape will emerge but the IAHS advice to members on foot of the leave decision is the same as always, think globally, act locally, maybe just to a little bit more global thinking for the next while is in order.”
From a company perspective, Steve Mann, Director of External Regulatory Affairs at Nelsons, commented: “So, Britain has voted and we’ve decided to leave the EU. I’m sure this will have come as a surprise to many, but the decision has been made and we will have to see what the future holds – assuming Parliament acts in line with the referendum result, of course.
“So, what might we expect? Well, nobody really knows, but in terms of the immediate future, nothing much is likely to happen. There will be some turmoil on the financial markets for sure, but this will likely settle down before too long. In terms of exiting the EU? Well, the process will be a long and difficult one, and is likely to take some years to complete. The EU is not something you can simply walk away from, and we will have to negotiate terms at every stage of the process. What will be the result? Who can say? Will Great Britain be stronger, or will the EU be better off without us? Only time will tell, but a new chapter is being written in our history and we can only speculate on how future generations will look back and judge our decision.”