General Election: What retail industry leaders are saying

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General Election Retail

The UK awoke this morning to find itself in the midst of the second hung parliament in a decade after yesterday’s general election.

The unexpected result has left the already turbulent economic climate reeling with more uncertainty as the sterling plummeted.

As business leaders scramble to get their heads around what the next few months holds in store for them, the Retail Gazette brings you live updates of what retail leaders are saying.

 

Theo Paphitis

Confederation of British Industry director general Carolyn Fairbairn:

“Businesses everywhere are stunned. It is another level of uncertainty in an already uncertain environment.

“First and foremost, we now need to create a functioning administration with fiscal stability, financial stability and the economy at the top of the agenda.

“We need strong leadership for the Brexit negotiations, which start in only nine days. We have good investment going into tech, life sciences, industries of the future. We mustn’t put all that on the back burner.”

Institute of Directors Chair Lady Barbara Judge:

“Business is getting used to surprises. Brexit, Trump and now this. Most important now is that we get certainty as soon as possible, and we need to go into Brexit with a government that is governing. It’s really crucial the voice of business is heard: it wasn’t heard enough in this election.”

Director general of the Institute of Directors Stephen Martin:

“If the Conservatives govern as a minority, they must recognise that they have not earned a mandate to implement their manifesto in full.

“Now is the time to move on from the rhetoric of the election campaign and focus on preparing for Brexit talks. The issues of access to EU markets and the need for skilled workers are still paramount, and Brussels will be keen to get negotiations underway soon.”

Hargreaves Lansdown:

“Following the UK election, sterling is coming under pressure, with a weak pound once more helping the FTSE 100. However, underlying that market strength, investors are betting that the average Brit will be poorer following this morning’s election result.

“The fallers are notable. Housebuilders are down across the board, but they’re joined by restaurants, high street banks, fashion retailers and media outlets.

“The implication is clear, consumer’s disposable incomes are expected to be stretched, and big ticket items, like property upgrades, as well as little luxuries, like regular meals out, are expected to be among the first to go.

“Sinking share prices at the likes of Next, Restaurant Group, easyJet and Dixons Carphone are all a reflection of the fact that lower sterling and political uncertainty mean the pounds in Britons’ pockets seem set to be lighter going forwards. The worries about the housing market have also spread beyond the housebuilders, with building materials suppliers such as Howdens and Travis Perkins joining the tumble.

“There’s good news for UK investors who are invested in more international businesses though. The combination of international earnings and a wealthier customer base is supporting retailers such as Burberry and Ted Baker, while resources groups such as Fresnillo and BHP Billiton are also on the up thanks to dollar denominated earnings.”

OnBuy managing director Cas Paton:

“British businesses need stability, so in that sense a hung parliament wasn’t the result some would have hoped for. However, as a British marketplace, we know that resilience and determination are in our country’s make-up.

“Just as the economy bounced back from the referendum vote, so will the channel remain strong despite this. In the field of e-commerce in particular we will see businesses continue to focus on the UK to guard against whatever might happen next.

“Change always brings opportunities and with the cost of importing goods potentially rising post-Brexit, we think we will see a renewed focus on trading within the UK.

“Certainly at OnBuy we’ve seen no signs that political uncertainty ever dents the entrepreneurship and spirit that sums up Britain’s approach to business.”

 Federation of Small Businesses national chairman Mike Cherry:

“In the coming hours and days, business needs immediate reassurance from the government that emerges about how it will protect the economy from any political turmoil.

“The UK must be seen to remain open for business, with a government committed to supporting enterprise.

“In the days ahead, FSB members will want to see ministers appointed and a clear timetable for the coming weeks. We are ready to work with the government and all parties on what measures to bring forward.

“FSB secured a number of important commitments for small business in many of the party manifestos in this election, and we believe there will be strong support in the new Parliament for many of our asks – on business rates reform, on protecting the self-employed from unfair tax rises, and on tackling late payments by big companies to their small business suppliers.

“FSB has consistently engaged with major parties right across the political spectrum and will work positively and constructively with the government that emerges, and MPs and Peers across all parties.”

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