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Brexit has already had a negative impact on business, according to the majority of Britain’s pub and restaurant groups. Now half of the sector’s leaders want either to cancel Brexit or hold a second referendum, with a further 20% favouring a ‘soft’ Brexit.

The findings come from CGA’s just published 2019 Business Leaders’ Survey, which reveals widespread concern ahead of the proposed departure date of March 29.

Previous CGA research has shown that the vast majority of leaders in the sector would have preferred a Remain vote in the 2016 Referendum—and now a third (33%) say the best thing for the market would be to revoke Article 50 to cancel Brexit, with another 15% wanting a second Referendum. Just 2% favour a ‘hard’ or no-deal Brexit, and only 1% say a delayed Brexit would be good for the sector.

Two thirds (66%) of bosses say the UK’s decision to leave the EU has already had a negative impact on their business. That figure is even steeper among London-based operators (75%), food-led businesses (72%) and companies with more than 200 sites (75%)—all groups that could be disproportionately affected by any further disruption to supply chains and staff availability.

But while many business leaders have made detailed preparations for various Brexit scenarios, the survey indicates that some operators have few plans in place. Just over half (55%) of leaders say they have made plans for a no-deal Brexit, and two in five (42%) for a ‘hard’ Brexit.

The survey points to particular alarm about the impact of Brexit on food costs and the value of sterling—challenges that are a concern to 73% and 70% of leaders respectively. Immigration controls top leaders’ list of social and political issues in 2019.

CGA chief executive Phil Tate said: “The prospect of Brexit has been a major headache for operators for two and a half years now, and we are still waiting for the final effects to become clear. This survey shows the widespread concerns about what Brexit will mean for the supply and cost of food and the availability of staff in particular—and also suggests that some businesses aren’t fully prepared for worst-case scenarios. As we go into a potentially tumultuous period, it’s going to be crucial to have access to the sharpest possible data as the basis for decisions that could shape businesses for years to come.”

CGA’s Business Leaders’ Survey is produced in association with industry training specialists CPL Online and is based on responses from 175 individuals working at CEO, MD, Chairman, Director or other senior management level. Click here for more information about the Survey and how it can support businesses’ decision making in 2019.


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