Two British companies – two very different takes on Brexit.
With the formal divorce negotiations just around the corner, this hovercraft company – based in Kent in southeast England – is riding high.
It’s a big exporter, with around 80 percent of its products going abroad.
Brexit, the bosses say, will now open-up new emerging markets – those which have been tough to access because of a lack of EU trade deals.
“We’re already working on new products, we’re prepared to take the investment now,” explained the director of the British Hovercraft Company Russ Pullen. “We’ve done virtually no business with the EU in the last five years, bits and pieces, but nothing significant. Virtually all of our output is already going to foreign nations. So the potential expansion of that once we have these trade deals, once the barriers to trade are removed, are enormous. And we as a company are very excited.”
Damon Embling, euronews: “Not all businesses share that confidence. But, while there’s been lots of talk of some quitting the UK altogether because of Brexit, there’s very little concrete evidence to support that right now.
“One recent study of UK start-up companies showed just one percent have firmly committed to moving their headquarters to the continent, while just over 60 percent have ruled out opening a European outpost. But, of course, all of that could change as the finer details of Brexit become clear.”
Scoota is a start-up which designs and targets digital adverts
The central London company is anti-Brexit – losing access to talented techies from the continent, one of its main concerns.
And, although it’s committed to keeping its UK headquarters, it’s not now ruling out opening other European offices.
“What I hope is that we’ll continue to be able to trade within the single market and I hope that we have, we retain some free movement, because we need the talent in London,” said James Booth, founder and CEO of Scoota.
“We would love to open offices in other cities, like Berlin or Lisbon. At the moment, it’s too soon to know whether that would work strategically for us. We anticipate in a year or so that would become more relevant. The US is also an important market for us.
“So we’ll see. We’re keeping a close eye on how the Brexit negotiations are moving, just to see where we might be left when that materialises.”
Frenchman Michael and Facund, from the Spanish island of Menorca, are among Scoota’s staff.
For them, it’s a case of wait and see as well.
“We can’t go back now, they have to leave now,” pointed out Michael Giuliano, Lead Developer at Scoota. “But I hope we won’t have to apply for a visa, or get taxed more, that would be the worse.
“Especially in the tech industry, I believe that even if the worst comes to the worst, we get kicked out of the country, then I would probably be able to still work for the same company remotely as a contractor or as a private company.”
As the government thrashes out its Brexit terms with Brussels, business leaders are busy lobbying amid the climate of uncertainty.
The British Chambers of Commerce – which represents around 70-thousand members – has a list of key demands.
“These cover crucial areas, such as trade, where businesses want to see minimal tariff and non-tariff barriers in their trade with the EU,” explained Marcus Mason, Head of Business, Education and Skills at the British Chambers of Commerce. “But also the labour market and migration, where businesses still want to access high skilled and low skilled workers from the EU in order for their businesses to thrive. Another crucial area is around regulation, where businesses want to make sure that there’s still an equivalent of standards when it comes to product standards and regulation, which allows for easy and free trade between the UK and the EU.”
The UK’s final exit from the EU is still a long way down the road.
But, with the formal negotiations closing in, the pressure’s on for the government to get Britain the best deal for business.
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