On Brexit’s Front Lines
Updated: Jun 3
What’s it like to run a business while the government pursues its unpredictable plan to quit the European Union? Bloomberg News is following four CEOs over the next two years as they try to limit the fallout. Here are their stories.
Illustration: Camilla Perkins
While the debate rages over whether Brexit will be a blessing or a curse for British businesses, the reality is nobody will know for years. And even once the results are in, the two camps are sure to disagree over the facts—and, of course, what could have been had Brexit not happened. But these entrepreneurs have to make the best of it now. We’re going inside their companies to uncover the real-life impact from decisions made in Westminster. You can follow their progress here.
The Fintech Lenders
Employees at Funding Circle Ltd.'s London, U.K. headquarters on Jan. 25, 2017.
Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg
Funding Circle Ltd., Britain’s largest peer-to-peer lender, matches investors with thousands of small-businesses around Europe. Co-founders Samir Desai and James Meekings and their London employees—many of them non-British—fear major disruption from Brexit, though business is booming so far.
The Brexit Backer
John Elliott, founder of Ebac Ltd., left, speaks with an employee working on the dehumidifier production line at the company's factory in Newton Aycliffe, U.K., on Jan. 9, 2017.
Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg
Ebac Ltd. makes water coolers, dehumidifiers and washing machines in the northeast of England. Although sales in the European Union contribute a big chunk of revenue, founder John Elliott campaigned for Brexit. He says tariffs, if they are imposed after Brexit, won’t seriously hurt his business.
The Poultry Farmer
Mark Gorton, joint managing director of Traditional Norfolk Poultry Ltd. in Shropham, near Attleborough, Norfolk, U.K., on Feb. 3, 2017.
Photographer: Luke MacGregor/Bloomberg
Traditional Norfolk Poultry sells five million free-range and organic birds a year, on farms in the countryside northeast of London. Co-founder Mark Gorton says 60 percent of his workers are east Europeans, doing jobs he says Britons don’t want to do. He’s concerned Brexit will curb the supply of labor, while a weakening pound has forced him to raise prices
The Ambitious Startup
Alasdair Pettigrew, chief executive officer of Boxarr Ltd. left, speaks with employee Romain Roques in the communal area at the company offices inside The Engine Shed in Bristol, U.K. Developing software for complex engineering projects has made Boxarr a British success story, serving customers including Airbus and Boeing Co.
Boxarr Ltd. builds software for complex engineering and manufacturing projects, serving clients such as planemaker Airbus from its base in western England. Chief Executive Officer Alasdair Pettigrew says Brexit may present opportunities — but he is worried about access to labor and lenders.