Retailers have reacted with shock and disbelief at today’s vote for the UK to leave the EU. Here’s a selection of the biggest quotes of the day.
Ann Summers’ chief executive Jacqueline Gold was outraged:
“I’m absolutely devastated by the decision and we’re already seeing the fall out in a matter of hours. Nobody knew what Brexit would look like, which is why Leave is the most dangerous thing for retailers.”
Former Game boss Ian Shepherd was also shocked by the news:
One of the oddest things on this awful day is the absence of any celebration from the 'winners'. Did anyone actually want this?— Ian Shepherd (@IanAShepherd) June 24, 2016
Debenhams chairman Ian Cheshire had a more subdued reaction to the result.
“I’m disappointed but I’m not a believer in the ‘end of the world’ reaction. It is the less attractive option but we have to get on and deal with it.”
While The Co-operative chief executive Richard Pennycook was cautiously optimistic:
“Our message is positive - we’ve been through a period of uncertainty and we now know the outcome. Now we need to get on and seize the opportunities.”
“I’m personally surprised and bitterly disappointed but we’re going to have to deal with it. It’s too early to call and it’s certainly too early to talk ourselves into a recession.
“The one thing I can’t fix is consumer confidence, but if people aren’t moving they may well be improving.
“The important question is, can you do a better job than the competition and are you better placed? And it’s my view that we are. I would hope we are fairly resilient to whatever comes our way.”
Likewise, Dreams chief executive Mike Logue said the business is well-placed to face the impact of Brexit given its recent transformation programme.
“There are going to be challenging times ahead, but in 26 years of retailing, I’ve never known it to be easy.
“The market and consumer confidence will, without a shadow of a doubt, be impacted, but with our focus on the customer and the colleague, we’re still very confident.”
Made.com chief executive and founder Ning Li said that, as a foreign immigrant entrepreneur”, he feels “very disappointed” by the result.
“One of the reasons I originally chose to come to the UK was because of the openness, the culture of free trade and the free movement of people, and I feel those principles and pillars are essential to the UK’s positioning.”
Dixons Carphone boss Seb James took to Twitter to separate personal disappointment with professional impact.
Feels strange and unsettling following the vote but we are the same, our company is the same, and our job is the same. Making people happy— Sebastian James (@DCSebJ) June 24, 2016
B&M boss Simon Arora also downplayed the effect Brexit would have on trading.
“We see it as business as usual and no direct impact on our business.“The whole of UK retail will see some pressure on imported goods but it’s a level playing field so it doesn’t change the fundamentals of our business.”
However, Analyst Tony Shiret warned that the effects of Brexit could be wide-reaching.
“The question is the extent to which this triggers a demand recession – I think there’s a good chance of that.”
Springboard’s insights director Diane Wehrle was also adamant that the result would have a serious impact of consumer confidence.
“Consumers don’t like things that don’t secure and we’re in an unprecedented period when no one knows what’s going to happen.“Anything that creates barriers to trade cannot be a positive for retail.”
The British Retail Consortium released a statement suggesting short term tactics to minimise the retail impact of Brexit.
“Retailers should be prepared for the possibility of significant swings, particularly in the exchange rate and consumer confidence.”
Retail analyst Nick Bubb also weighed in on the result.
“Whether you think that today is “Independence Day” or not, there is no doubt that the potential shock to the London housing and jobs market from the Leave the EU vote is a massive concern and that today is going to be “Black Friday” on the stock market, with a sea of red on the screens first thing this morning and sterling slumping.”
But high-profile retail entrepreneur Theo Paphitis, who was a vocal supporter of the Out campaign, is remaining upbeat:
Just left ITN Studios - watching history being made. Uncertainty for a while now as predicted in my blog but the future is what we make it!— Theo Paphitis (@TheoPaphitis) June 24, 2016
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