The UK on-trade responds to Brexit referendum

24 June 2016

As the results of yesterday's referendum sink in, and the UK on-trade comes to terms with an exit from Europe, we asked some industry figures for their take on the situation.

Drew Mallins, founder, London Bartenders' Association, posted the following on Facebook:
'Dear London and the majority of hospitality staff (some 65% of you) that are non-British.
'You help make the London scene what it has strived for years to be; vibrant, talented, progressive and multi-cultural. Despite the outcome of today's vote, you should not feel unwelcome. I have read many words from Europeans today about how unwelcome they feel and the truth is that the hospitality industry in the whole country would be nothing without you. London certainly would not be the destination it has become without your hard work, dedication and passion to your careers.'

Elliot Ball, co-founder, The Cocktail Trading Co
'As I understand it, immigrants who are already working and already in possession of an NI number are safe. Perhaps I'm misinformed, but this does afford hospitality a degree of safety for now. That said, our staff turnover as an industry is high, and once we get past the cut-offs, businesses are going to have to provide stronger incentives to retain staff when there aren't as many coming in, keen to get a foot on the ladder.'

Duncan Garrood, CEO, Punch Taverns
'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.'

Zigmars Grinbergs, Oblix
'Why did London, Liverpool and Manchester vote to remain, when so many other places did not? It's simple – people in these places have seen how beneficial diversity is for everyone, and what being united with the rest of Europe brings to the UK – and where better to see that than in the wine trade? I truly believe that this remains the most vibrant and interesting place for a sommelier to be working in, despite the fact that it is a sad day today.'

Christine Parkinson, group head of wine, Hakkasan
'I'm shocked and disappointed. We have already been contacted by wine suppliers, forecasting price rises in the next few months due to currency fluctuations. I am sure there will be implications for recruitment of staff as well.'

Laurent Richet, head sommelier, Restaurant Sat Bains
'Things are going to be different for sure. Bad to start and slowly getting better but that will take quite a few years.
'In the wine world, since we won't be limited by European laws, countries of the New World that produce single-grape variety wine with 75% minimum of the grape will be able to come to English shores as the EU asked for a minimum of 85% of the grape labelled. Getting wine from the European Union may not be too bad depending on the relationship between the producers and the suppliers. Some have worked together for many years and have gone through many challenges. Surely this shouldn't come in the way. Well, that's what we hope.'

Alex Wolpert, founder, East London Liquor Company
'Our glass comes from Italy, and we have growing export markets into Europe. As we can already see, the pound has suffered, which will mean a loss of margin on some of our core raw ingredients. We have, as of yet, no real measure of the level of tariffs that will be levied on UK products being imported into the EU, but judging by Martin Schulz, the president of the European Parliament, wishing to speed up the triggering of Article 50, the EU will be trying to make an example of Britain's exit. Not a good day for Britain and those producing in it, but I'm happy to be proven wrong.'

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