Operators have reacted to the vote to leave the EU by insisting that the focus must remain on current trading amid market turmoil.
While JD Wetherspoon founder Tim Martin this morning said concerns over the economic implications of Brexit would prove to be misplaced, other senior figures in the sector said they were braced for a period of uncertainty.
Clive Watson, chairman of City Pub Company, said: “For people on my side of the debate is a massive shock but we have to accept that the Leave campaign won by more than a million votes so there was a clear message.
“From a business point of view we have to just get on with the job at hand. Long-term it’s difficult to see what the impacts of this decision will be because there is so much uncertainty about what will happen next.”
Patrick Dardis, incoming Young’s chief executive, said: “I, like most business people today, am uncertain as to what will happen. I think uncertainty is the key word and that will prevail for anything up to two years. I hope it ends much sooner than that.
“Despite sterling and the FTSE’s immediate negative reaction, I don’t think there will be a huge reaction from businesses. I would say there will be very little impact in the near term but who knows long-term.”
Harry Ramsden’s chief executive Joe Teixeira said: “I think the result has come as a real surprise to many people and whilst there is rightfully a feeling of uncertainty within the country at this time, we must respect the views of the majority of the British electorate. With regards to the future, only time will tell what the real implications of this decision will be.”
In a note sent to staff, Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay said: “You will have noted that Marston’s did not, as a business, adopt a formal stance over the referendum. The reasons for that included the fact that our business is in the UK, with limited direct exposure to Europe. What really affects us is consumer confidence and the economy here in the UK.
“Markets will be volatile as the implications of the result are digested, which will probably affect our share price as it will others in the sector and elsewhere. There will also be much analysis and comment on the impact on business over the next few days and weeks.
“There is however a difference between stock market reaction and the real effect on our business. With all that in mind we should be clear that for us it is very much ‘business as usual’, and be reassured that our customers are unlikely to be deterred from visiting our pubs and bars or buying our beers as a consequence of the referendum. Good summer weather and progress in Euro 2016 (crossed fingers) are likely to be of much greater immediate relevance to us.”
Punch chief executive Duncan Garrood said: “It is currently too early for us to have a clear understanding of the longer term impact of the UK’s departure from the EU. However, as a wholly UK based business, it is very much business as usual for us with our firm focus on providing the highest levels of service to our publicans.”
Leon co-founder John Vincent said: “I hope we continue to be a place where young people from around the world come to contribute, meet and share ideas.”
Serial sector investor Luke Johnson said: “Arguably the sector has become overheated and for example, a reduction in rental inflation would be welcome. Inbound tourism should grow apace. The medium term impacts will not be as material as the gloom merchants predict. Britain remains the world’s 5th biggest economy and business should seize this opportunity to trade more with the world outside the EU.”
Andrew Lennox, founder of the Koh Group, said: “Whilst we believe that in the short term there will be uncertainty, the UK is a resilient country and we feel that in the long term a truly global focus will be of benefit to the country as a whole, the restaurant industry buys product from all over the world so putting in place trade agreements is a matter of priority.”
A Diageo spokesperson said: “We respect the views of the British people in the EU referendum. As one of the UK’s leading exporters, Diageo remains committed to the long term prosperity of the Scotch whisky industry and will now work closely with our industry bodies to seek clarity on the transition process.
“It is a priority that the UK continues to benefit from open access to the EU as well as favourable international trade agreements to protect the UK’s important export industries, including Scotch whisky.”