Ann Summers’ chief executive Jacqueline Gold has said she is “devastated” over Brexit and it will rock the stability of the retail sector.
Gold told Retail Week ”the nation has woken up to the biggest travesty ever with a potentially massive fallout”, after the UK voted 52% to 48% for a Brexit.
The retail boss said the result of the vote would have a significant impact on the stability of retail firms.
“We already have barriers on the high street with rents and business rates and we now have another one. Nobody knew what Brexit would look like, which is why Leave is the most dangerous thing for retailers.
”We’ll be swamped with admin. We want to be trading and driving our business forward and this is stifling all that.”
“All this is doing is adding more uncertainty and distraction from running our businesses”
The lingerie and sex toy retailer reported a profit of £1m in its full-year results in December, but Gold said the growth of her business and the wider retail sector would be hindered by the result.
“All this is doing is adding more uncertainty and distraction from running our businesses,” she said.
Gold did not rule out job losses as a result of the financial impact of a Brexit on the strength of the British pound.
“If costs go up as a result of a weak economy and a weak pound and sales go down then obviously that isn’t a good formula for all of the things that matter, whether that be pricing or jobs.
“I will do everything I can to make sure none of those things happen, but the world is not going to be the same as we’ve known it for the last 40 years.”
Important to access the single market
Gold stressed the need for the UK to renegotiate trade agreements with the EU as quickly as possible.
“It’s very important we continue to have access to the single market, but it’s not like you can cancel your gym membership and rock up on the treadmill the next day.
“We will have to make compromises and there will be a premium to pay.”
Gold was a signatory on a letter signed by 1280 business leaders backing the Remain campaign with Tim Steiner, Charles Dunstone, Burberry boss Christopher Bailey, Asos chairman Brian McBride and Asda chief executive Andy Clarke published on Tuesday.
”I have to be optimistic as a business leader and I will do everything I possibly can to reassure my colleagues,” said Gold.
“Retailers are very resilient. We have to come to terms with the decision the public have made, we have to adapt or die.”