Independents across the UK have had a mixed reaction to the news this morning that Britain has decided to leave the European Union.
Several independents Drapers spoke to were worried about rising prices and shaky consumer confidence as a result of the Brexit decision.
Matt Horstead, owner of Dartagnan in Chichester said he was “devastated” by the result. “The shock waves are going to be felt for years to come. Price changes will have huge consequences for brands. Wholesale policies may alter, retail prices may increase, staff wages may increase. Retail just got a whole lot tougher.”
Lauren Ferguson, owner of Sisters Boutique in Falkirk, Scotland, echoed this: “I’m in shock and disappointed to be honest. For me it should never have been up to the common man to have this decision. At the end of the day what do we really understand of European politics? The whole point of government is to govern and our parliament has let us down. I worry about prices going through the roof. I buy European labels and my British labels use Italian fabrics. I just can’t see the benefits at all. It’s the worst possible outcome but we will need to wait and see the real effects.”
Bruce McLaren, owner of plus-size independent Dalziel Kingsize in Woking, Surrey, said: “I’m really fearful of what lies ahead. Sterling weakening can only mean prices rising. Customer confidence shaky anyway and this result won’t improve it.”
Marc Granditer, owner of kidswear chain Base described the result as a “lose lose” situation.
“Suppliers will put prices up, we will pass this on to our customers and demand is affected. Or we hold our prices and lose margin. It’s a lose, lose scenario! And it becomes very challenging to make major investment decisions in such an unstable situation.”
William Coe, managing director of the six-store Coes department store group agreed that the market will remain uncertain for some time to come.
“The last thing the economy needs now is uncertainty – no one knows what the next few weeks or months will bring – the hope is that the consumers desire to keep spending is not radically altered. Regarding product, I’ve no idea where the currency is going to end up but I hope it will stabilise at the level it has been at, so we don’t have to adjust prices to cater for a weak pound.”
Jeremy Clayton, owner of Javelin in Sudbury said: “I think we will have to weather tougher trading conditions in the short term due to the unsettling effects of this result. The retail industry is already shaky and this is not helpful as we enter another buying season. Longer term things will settle into a new pattern and the final outcome is far from certain. I believe that for our industry we were better as part of a united Europe that could compete effectively with the other major global trading blocs.”
However others were more optimistic about the leave vote and said the UK should emerge as a stronger economy.
Hilary Cookson, owner of Maureen Cookson in Whalley, Lancashire, said: “We will not evict hardworking immigrants and the NHS will not implode. Europe as we know it will change, but I hope it will emerge better and stronger. We may now become the leader of a new Europe. Change, however it appears, must be embraced. Resistance is now futile.”
Darren Hoggett co-owner of J&B Menswear in Norwich also welcomed the news. “I’m very pleased that the country has taken the decision to leave the EU. The vast majority of our customers wanted that too. I think any short term effects will be a price worth paying for democracy and accountability for our own affairs. I see little impact on the clothing industry as a whole as we operate on a global market and that hasn’t changed. My German brands aren’t suddenly going to stop dealing with us because we will no longer a part of the EU. You will probably see some brands and stores use the result as an excuse for their own failings. There is still plenty of money to be made and that will never change. Onward and upwards.”
Giulio Cinque, owner of designer independent Giulio in Cambridge, added: ”During the campaign, I had been concerned about not being amongst the competition in the future and being isolated. At the moment I am asking myself why would anybody want to penalise the UK?”