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“No different from a recession”: industry reacts to Brexit timeline

Sector will face long-term uncertainty in the run-up to the UK’s exit from the EU, according to industry leaders

Pictured: Smyle MD Rick Stainton wants to know what the 'Breality' of Brexit will be

The events sector will have to deal with long-term uncertainty in the run-up to the UK’s exit from the EU, according to industry leaders.

Prime minister Theresa May revealed at the Conservative party conference that the UK will trigger Article 50 before the end of March 2017, which would result in the UK leaving the EU by March 2019.

And event professionals from across the industry have said that the run up to Brexit will be “a potential rollercoaster ride” and “no different from a recession” for the sector. 

Rick Stainton, MD of Smyle Group, said: “I think 2017 and 2018 will be where we’ll really see the impact of Brexit. All we’ve said as a country so far is that we’ve voted to start on a journey, the Brexit. No one’s had a clue what the journey’s going to entail yet, the 'Breakup’, let alone what the final destination looks like, the ‘Breality’. I don’t think global brands will be making related decisions until the make-up of the negotiations start to take shape.

“The financial sector is fragile, there will be a very significant threat from Paris and Frankfurt heavily beckoning key corporates to move significant personnel over to their sectors. 

“You’ve got to stay close to clients so you can adapt accordingly. We’re keeping an ear to the ground and being alert, not alarmed.”

Dale Parmenter, group CEO at drp, said: “The feeling of uncertainty has been heightened again and our government needs to be as transparent as possible about what is happening. 

“It is imperative that until we are out of this period of uncertainty that we keep a firm ‘business as usual’ stance. Since Brexit we have continued our employment drive and have invested significantly in the business. 

“There may be widespread budget reductions, but this sort of behaviour seems to re-occur every decade regardless. As a business we have gone through three recessions and due to the market we operate in and the nature of capitalism, we all know that history will repeat itself. This is no different from a recession – it’s simply how you set yourself up for both the boom times and the bust.”

Alan Newton, chief operating officer of Eventopedia, said: “Triggering Article 50 simply sets off a timer and provides certainty that we are - in fact - coming out, but it doesn't create any clearer indication of what that really means for business and for the events industry. All the negotiations are still to occur and both sizes are posturing over both a hard and soft line with fractions on either side.  

“So, quite frankly, it's pretty much anyone’s guess as to what we are really dealing with, and businesses need to learn how to deal with such long-term uncertainty so as not to derail the economy.”   

Nick Gold, MD of Speakers Corner, said: “The unclear implications of the vote to leave are reflected in the enquiries we have received at Speakers Corner. Our corporate clients—both domestically and internationally—seek to understand the potential consequences and we have been providing speakers with expert opinions, commentary and analysis.

“The perception that clarity will be gained once the Brexit timetable for implementation is made known has not yet resolved itself. There remains an underlying anxiety about the forthcoming months and years.

“I envisage that the events industry will experience the turbulence that is already affecting other sectors. The critical focus should be to demonstrate that the ROI for any event is definitively dependent on the content and its delivery. Content is where the real value is found, and it is what will assist clients during a potential rollercoaster ride ahead.”

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