Fashion retailers across the UK have expressed their shock and dismay at Britain’s decision to leave the European Union, with political uncertainty and a weakened pound primary concerns.
A total of 51.9% or 17.4 million people voted to leave the EU in yesterday’s historic referendum, while 48.1% voted to remain.
Overnight the pound dropped 11%, slumping to a three decade low of $1.32 against the dollar, the lowest level since 1985.
David Cameron says he plans to resign as Prime Minister by October to allow for “fresh leadership.”
Berwin & Berwin, managing director, Simon Berwin said: “What happened to the dollar overnight tells you what to expect for the fashion and clothing industry – we’re heading for inflation and political instability. This tells us sometimes people have to be careful what they wish for. This will take five years to sort out. It’s horrendous.”
Independent retail analyst Nick Bubb echoed this point. “It is an economic and political disaster for the country in general and London in particular, as reflected in the slump in sterling overnight, so it is unlikely to be good news for the fashion industry.”
Tim Little, designer and owner of footwear brand Grenson said: “Obviously the key point is that nobody knows what this will mean, except of course that we know it means uncertainty and that is bad for business. We just have to hope that the uncertainty is short term keep in mind that we are all global businesses now.”
Simon Carter, founder of the eponymous menswear brand said he was “ashamed to call himself British and unable to call myself European.”
Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council said on Twitter that she was “deeply saddened by this morning’s news.”
Charles Clinkard, owner of 33-store eponymous footwear chain, said: “I feel we will see a long period of uncertainty as frankly I don’t think anyone really knows what will happen now. One thing I can say is if the pound continues to weaken then retail prices will rise. The overall commercial and economic issues could be seismic.”
Shaun Wills, chief executive of Jacques Vert Group, said he is in shock: “From my perspective, our immediate concern is managing the currency risk; looking at both our sourcing and pricing for spring 17. I am still digesting the other implications!”
A poll carried out by the British Fashion Council last week suggested 90% of the 290 businesses polled favour staying in the EU, while at London Collections Men a number of top designers, including Christopher Raeburn and Patrick Grant, also expressed a desire for the UK to remain in the European Union.
Fashion bosses including Jacqueline Gold, chief executive of Ann Summers, Asos.com chairman Brian McBride and designer Anya Hindmarch were among 1,300 business leaders to sign a letter earlier this week, urging people to vote remain ahead of the historic vote.