‘We have no choice’: Lincolnshire firm quits Britain over Brexit

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International fancy dress supplier Smiffys has lashed out at Prime Minister Theresa May and her “totally clueless government” for not having a plan in place in preparation for Brexit.

With uncertainty ahead of leaving the EU and the pound being at a 168-year low against the dollar, Smiffys has taken the decision to move its head offices from Gainsborough to the Netherlands.

Elliott Peckett, Director of Smiffys, said: “The two are inextricably linked – if the global markets perceived Brexit as a positive move for the UK economy and our business, then the pound would be performing strongly against the US Dollar and other world currencies.

“The fact that the pound is now at a 168-year record low against the dollar, according to the Bank of England, sums up the outlook for the UK economy.

“However, having invested heavily for many years to build the world’s leading international fancy dress brand, Smiffys now receives payment in other currencies that we can use to manufacture our costumes, wigs and accessories.

“This gives Smiffys a fantastic competitive advantage against some of our UK and European competitors and allows us to minimise the price impact on our valued global customers.”

The company, which has over 250 staff across its two sites in Gainsborough and Leeds, sells costumes across the globe and is now looking to secure both the future of the company and its employees.

“Whilst UK industry has received no guidance nor communication from the government on what trade with Europe will look like post-Brexit – other than the meaningless slogan ‘Brexit means Brexit’ – Smiffys are acting to protect our business and the jobs of our valued employees.

“By opening a Netherlands company and European distribution centre, we are ensuring that Smiffys are in a position to continue expanding trade with Europe from within the single market.”

Founded in Gainsborough 126 years ago, Smiffy’s recorded an annual turnover in excess of £56 million and profits of £1,886,015.

The company currently supplies 42 countries around the globe, 15 of which are in the EU, with more than 26 million items shipped every year. Exports currently account for more that 40% of the business and Elliot says that the company has been left with no choice.

‘Totally clueless government’

Elliott added: “With the government putting immigration controls ahead of access to the European single market, Smiffys have no choice but to take this action to ensure we are not restricted by any costly trade barriers into Europe once we leave the EU, which accounts for nearly 40% of our turnover.

“As the best known, largest and longest established family-owned fancy dress brand in the world, Smiffys’ strategy requires it to continually improve service to its customers by having stock in territory.

“A European office and warehouse will complement Smiffys existing global footprint in the USA, China, Australia and the UK – providing the infrastructure for continued growth.”

However the move will mean that the Gainsborough site will no longer be the main depot, but will instead be ‘one of several pick faces’ such as the warehouses the company has in Australia and the USA.

Another concern for the company is the uncertainty surrounding jobs and its European staff. Elliott has confirmed the company will do everything it can to protect its ‘heritage’ and continue to maintain the Gainsborough site.

“As Smiffys grows, we are continually creating jobs in not only our UK offices – Gainsborough and Leeds – but across our global footprint,” said Elliott.

“Further, Smiffys employs many valued European staff, some of whom live in the UK, and when Theresa May and her totally clueless government can confirm that they can continue to work and live here, you will have your answer.

“However, if the government fails to negotiate their continued residence in the UK, we will work tirelessly to relocate them within our global business.”

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