Catering equipment manufacturers still spooked by Brexit fall-out

KNUTSFORD, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 24:  A European Union flag, with a hole cut in the middle, flies at half-mast outside a home in Knutsford Cheshire after today's historic referendum on June 24, 2016 in Knutsford, United Kingdom. The results from the historic EU referendum has now been declared and the United Kingdom has voted to LEAVE the European Union.  (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

The latest CESA Business Barometer has highlighted just how concerned the UK catering equipment industry is about Brexit.

However, despite the uncertainties, many companies felt positive towards trading with some reporting continuing growth in sales.

The quarterly survey of CESA members is conducted in order to discover the key issues affecting their businesses, their perceptions about the future, and their plans over the next 12 months.

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The 2016 Q4 Barometer survey has revealed the impact of the uncertainties caused by Brexit. According to the report, many companies are delaying investment in areas such as premises and operating systems and are reassessing their workforces as they look to reduce costs.

Companies are concerned about having to increase prices in line with the rising cost of raw materials and as a result expect to put a freeze on employee benefits and hold back on investment during the coming year. Worries about VAT and border restrictions were also highlighted.

Despite the negative points, the report also highlighted some positives; many companies believed that the focus on operating more efficiently is actually a good thing, for example: “We’ve had to look hard at where and how much we are spending money, which in turn has actually made us a better organisation,” said one manufacturer.

A key concern is the perceived lack of investment in the Department of International Trade – previously UKT&I. One respondent said: “The government seems to be cutting funding at a time when SMEs need support and funding if we are to drive our exports further.”

In terms of negotiating Brexit, the top three priorities are predictable with companies wanting access to the single market, free movement of people and access to skilled workers.

“Rather than becoming clearer, the uncertainties surrounding Brexit seem to be getting ever more complex,” explained Glenn Roberts, chair of CESA.  “However, the Barometer is the type of hard research that gives us a powerful tool to argue the industry’s position with government. Over the coming months we have several meetings lined up with ministers and representatives of various departments. They have sought our input and we’ll be telling them exactly what the catering equipment industry wants.”

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