Brexit climate is a recipe for unease

Report claims uncertainty is a cause of concern to equipment suppliers

• Sun setting on EU benefits? CESA members want to retain access to single market.

THE decision to leave the European Union is already having a detrimental impact on the UK’s catering equipment industry, claims a new report.

The Catering Equipment Suppliers Association (CESA) Business Barometer survey of its members shows that companies are delaying investment, looking to reduce labour costs and expecting to increase their prices and put a freeze on employee benefits.

The uncertainties surrounding Brexit seem to be getting ever more complex.

CESA represents over 180 companies which either supply, service or maintain commercial catering equipment. Its Business Barometer is a quarterly survey of CESA members that looks into the foremost issues affecting their companies, their views about the future of the industry and their plans for the coming year.

The association said its membership hoped Brexit negotiations would lead to the preservation of some of the European Union membership’s key tenets.
The companies surveyed wanted access to the single market, free movement of people to and from the EU as well as having access to skilled workers.

Another concern was the apparent under-funding of the Department of International Trade by the UK government.
The department was created by Westminster in the wake of the Brexit vote and is responsible for striking and extending trade agreements between the UK and non-EU States.

We’ve had to look hard at where, and how much, we are spending money.

CESA members have expressed concerns regarding the fledgling department’s ability to improve the lot of UK businesses.

One respondent to the survey 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.”

CESA said it expects to lobby the government this year to deliver the best possible arrangement for the firms it represents, using the report to underline its various concerns about Brexit.
Chair of CESA, Glenn Roberts, said: “Rather than becoming clearer, the uncertainties surrounding Brexit seem to be getting ever more complex.

• CESA’s members are expecting to have to increase their prices in the wake of Brexit.

“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.”

The report wasn’t all negative, however.
Some respondents to the survey had reported growth in sales since the vote.
One member said that the uncertain climate following the Brexit vote had encouraged them to operate more efficiently.

“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 the respondent.