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Brexit generates “genuine despondency” in Irish retail

The UK voting to leave the EU was heralded as “a sad day” among Irish retailers, according to industry sources. 


Source: Alamy

A report from Atradius this morning suggested that, after the UK, the Republic of Ireland would be the economy to be hit second-hardest by the result of the referendum.

Neil Hughes, managing director of Dublin-based chartered accountants Hughes Blake told Drapers that retailers in the country are “grappling with the implications” of the British public’s decision.

“There’s genuine despondency here,” he said. “A lot of people who sell to the UK will be being paid in a much weaker currency from now on, which won’t suit them one bit.

 “As well as the obvious financial impact, a lot of people have formed close friendships with the people in the UK that they have longstanding trade relationships with. There’ll be a sense of detachment now, which feels very sad.”

Retail Ireland director Thomas Burke echoed Hughes’ sentiment, adding that people in Ireland are “disappointed about the vote”.

“In the short-term the currency rates are the most immediate issue,” he said. “In the longer-term we don’t know how complex things like logistics will be after the two-year negotiation period. And all of this will be an ongoing distraction to consumers, which will hit the markets here.”

Burke suggested one positive for Ireland could be that, as Ireland is the last English-speaking nation in the EU, it may lead to some brands with a European focus moving headquarters from the UK.

“If you’re from an English-speaking country and you want to get into Europe but still want that cultural and linguistic link, there’s plenty of reason to think Ireland would be an attractive proposition,” he continued.

Dublin indie Louis Copeland has been in the city since 1933 but the store’s footfall may now be hit by a reduction in British tourists visiting the city, according to the eponymous owner. 

“At the moment the tourist scene in the city is pretty buoyant,” he said. “But with people maybe feeling the pinch and the currency issue we may face a bit of a backlash,” he said.

“It’s too early to tell the full impact yet, but yes there is some concern over here about how we’ll be affected.”



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