The ‘Brexit’ referendum is set for 23 June when voters will decide if the country is to stay in the European Union or go it alone.
The Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR) is surveying its members, and early indications suggest one third favoured an exit and two thirds favoured staying in.
However, many members had concerns about the potential impact on recruitment. Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “I have had conversations with several of our members who have asked if they will be forced to lose staff in the event of an out vote.”
If Britain left the EU, there would be a two-year negotiation period, and the ALMR urged the Government to give enough information to allow businesses to plan.
“The key issue at stake for businesses is certainty. Uncertainty creates a brake on investment and that is the last thing the sector needs at the minute,” Nicholls said.
“It is a positive that we are having an early referendum but we urgently need more information, from both sides, on what the landscape will look like post-referendum.”
Toby Brett, founder of Banwell House Pub Company, said he feared it could cause staffing issues. “If we left the EU, the pub trade would be mainly affected by staffing shortages, something that is already a challenge — especially with chefs.
"We rely, as an industry, on migrant workers, so making it harder for these workers would be negative,” he said.
Brett also expressed concerns that reduced tourism from within the EU may damage trade. But he did see some benefits to quitting the EU, including potential for less red tape on legislation around allergens, working time, employment and health and safety laws.
Pub companies Punch, Enterprise and Fuller’s, along with the ALMR and British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA), have so far remained neutral on Brexit.
BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “Whatever the outcome, it is vital that it does not affect the ability of our members to trade openly with the EU and other markets and meet the employment needs of pubs and brewers, which are a central part of driving growth in the UK hospitality sector.”
Would Brexit be good or bad for the industry? Email email@example.com