American Express: Brexit will have ‘no immediate impact’ on Brighton
Brighton would be hit if American Express ever chose to leave
THE BIGGEST private sector employer in the city has calmed nerves by stating last week’s Brexit vote will have “no immediate impact” on its Brighton headquarters.
American Express, which employs more than 3,000 staff in Brighton, said its European businesses were “well placed” to manage the transition if the UK leaves the EU.
The statement came after an Institute of Directors (IoD) survey yesterday found one in five business leaders were considering moving some of their operations abroad.
US President Barack Obama has previously warned the UK it would face trade barriers and be “at the back if the queue” if it left the EU, leading to fears the UK could face on exodus of some its leading employers.
Doug Smith, Vice President Public Affairs & Communications at American Express, told The Argus: “The result of last week’s vote will not have any immediate impact on our European operations.
“We have been closely monitoring developments and actively preparing for this scenario to ensure that our European businesses are well-placed to manage the transition.”
With divisions in Brighton in risk management and technology, any withdrawal would come as a massive blow to the city’s economy.
Meanwhile Brandwatch, Brighton’s biggest home-grown technology company and an employer of around 300 people, said it was “well positioned” to weather Brexit instability.
Chief executive Giles Palmer said: “We have a strong business and Brighton is our home.”
The outlook was less optimistic for the West Sussex fruit picking industry, estimated to be worth some £500 million.
Industry body British Summer Fruits has called on the Government to introduce a workers entry permit to allow the tens of thousands of mostly Eastern European seasonal pickers come to the UK – or risk being unable to harvest its 100,000 ton annual crop.
Brighton and Hove’s thriving hospitality industry could also be affected if EU movement is restricted, with restaurants warning they could face a severe shortfall in European talent.
Olivia Reid, of Terre à Terre and founder of the Brighton Restaurant Association, said: “The UK has been struggling for many years with recruitment issues within the industry. Enticing skilled professionals from overseas has been essential for growth and development of the sector as there is a huge shortage of skilled professionals being produced internally.
“Any departure from the EU would make this worse, more complicated and expensive – not to mention the impact it would have on the creativity within the sector.”