Twickenham business owners – Brexit is ‘debilitating’ and we’re praying for a deal

By Kate Pounds
October 18 2019, 16.20

Price hikes, carbon footprint increases and Brexit uncertainty are concerns for independent traders in Twickenham as October 31 approaches.

The National Federation of Self Employed People and Small Businesses lists the import and export of goods and services, data transfer, and the employment of EU citizens as potential problems for traders after Brexit.

Bruce Lyons, chair of the Twickenham Town Business Association and owner of Crusader Travel on Church Street, explained his experience of the general impact of Brexit uncertainty on businesses. He said: “It’s totally debilitating to business. I’m swamped with people being really annoyed about it, they just hope it will go away soon.

“I suspect the vast majority, whether they voted for or against, consider it extraordinary that these highly paid public servants can sit there all day squabbling about what we should do and not paying attention to the fact that there was a vote.

“It seems to me that a lot of damage has been done by just sitting on the fence. Such an utterly ruinous effect on our international investors here. There have been so many financial catastrophes in that period that you can’t help but think that they’re connected and there’s more to come. Church Street is a collection of strong independent traders, but keeping it going in this current trading environment is just really hard work.”

SWAMPED: Mr Lyons said independent traders are working hard to keep going in the current environment

Mr Lyons said prices in Europe affect the distances people choose to fly. He said that high prices in Europe put customers off and encourage them to fly further afield, and that although these longer flights are often more expensive, money goes further when people reach their destinations.

Sophie King (pictured in main image), owner of The Bloomery on Church Street, said: “Until it happens we don’t know.  We know that we’ll be worse off at the end of the day, We are just praying that we get a deal.

“There’s no point worrying too much about it because no one knows exactly what’s going to happen, and it’s been going on for such a long time now that I just have to let it happen.”

And Miss King explained the potential impact of Brexit on her independent florists. She said: “We have no idea what the price is going to be with the flower market and importing from Holland.

“It’s the cost of flowers that’s going to change for us, and we’re going to have to pass that on to the customer, either in price rises or by downsizing what we produce for the same cost.”

Miss King described how a wholesale price increase of 30% could generate an increase of 20 to 30 pence per flower for the customer.

She also expressed concerns around keeping the carbon footprint low. A lot of flowers for The Bloomery are imported from Holland at the moment, but depending on the final form of Brexit, may have to be sourced further afield.

Miss King said that she would like to be able to buy more British, as she does already with lillies and tulips, but that British flower production doesn’t yet have the capacity or the diversity her business requires. She explained that Holland is closer than Cornwall, that their soil, very close to sea level, is more fertile, and that they have been using glasshouses for ages in a way that we aren’t.

Not to paint too bleak a picture, Miss King went on to explain that she feels British flower production does have the potential to meet higher demand, and that there has been massive growth, no pun intended, in the industry, just that we aren’t there yet.

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