As the dust settles after the EU Referendum, forecourt retailers have been taking stock – and most seem to be taking a ‘business as usual’ approach. Jonathan Tout, managing director of award winning Tout’s Budgens, said his company had ambitious growth plans and Brexit would not alter those.
“In the short-term I don’t think Brexit will make a difference to business. Until we know the outcome of talks with the EU and other countries around the world, not a lot will change. Of course, the pound dropping has an impact but at the moment it’s only making a couple of pence difference to the pole signs.
“We employ a fair number of EU nationals in our pharmacies and I don’t see Brexit changing that. There’s some great talent out there in the EU and it’s great to be able to use it so I am hoping that won’t change.
“What I find funny about the whole thing is that everyone – on both sides – believes they are absolutely right but it’s only in time that we’ll find out who will be eating humble pie and who will be saying ‘I told you so’.”
Rob Exelby, owner of Exelby Services, admitted he was disappointed in the result as he thought Britain was stronger in Europe. He said: ““What will happen is really hard to predict. In the short term there’s the volatility of oil prices as they are obviously governed by what’s happening with the pound and the dollar. In the long term it boils down to our overall national economy. We do a lot of B2B business and we could see that trade drop off but then again it could improve. It’s really hard to tell.”
Susie Hawkins, director of the Simon Smith Group, was sanguine about the whole thing: “Obviously the uncertainty in the markets is going to cause us a challenge as the fuel prices will be affected by the exchange rates but we’ve had volatility over pricing before and we’ll deal with it again. We just need to make sure we’re on top of our game and keep an eye on what’s going on.”
And when Forecourt Trader spoke to David Charman of Parkfoot Garage in Kent, all he had time to say was that he was looking forward to the challenge.
Meanwhile, at the oil companies, a Shell spokesperson said: “Although Shell was in favour of the UK remaining in the EU, we respect the decision of the majority of the British people who voted to elect to leave. We will work with the UK government and European institutions on any implications for us. Our priority is to continue providing reliable, affordable energy to our customers in Europe and the UK.”
BP said: “We respect the decision taken by the British electorate in the EU referendum. It is far too early to understand the detailed implications of this decision and uncertainty is never helpful for a business such as ours. However, we do not currently expect it to have a significant impact on BP’s business or investments in the UK and Continental Europe, nor on the location of our HQ or our staff.
“As details of the process for negotiations around the UK’s future relationship with the EU become clear, we expect to engage with both the UK government and the EU on areas of common interest.”
Finally, a spokesperson for Valero said they anticipated no material impact to their UK operations following the decision to leave the EU. “We will continue to monitor the situation and will liaise with government throughout the transition process,” they said.