Irish Operations Of M&S, Iceland Likely To Be Hardest Hit By 'No-Deal' Brexit

By Steve Wynne-Jones
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Irish Operations Of M&S, Iceland Likely To Be Hardest Hit By 'No-Deal' Brexit

A leading retail analyst has said that the Irish operations of Marks & Spencer and frozen foods retailer Iceland are likely to be hardest hit in the event of a no-deal Brexit, with Tesco and a number of other retailers also impacted.

Clive Black of Shore Capital told ESM that a hard Brexit is likely to impact currency rates, trade flows – "goods into the UK from all over the world, but notably the EU" – as well as consumer and corporate confidence and behaviour.

'Chaos Seems Possible'

"Chaos seems highly possible, particularly for UK exporters," Black explained. "So if the EU/Ireland imposes controls and tariffs, then M&S and Iceland would undoubtedly be hit considerably, as would Tesco and the other local players in ambient grocery and HPC, a lot of which comes from the UK."

Black added that while the UK government "has spoken of no blockages" for food imports, "whether or not the distribution and logistics systems can cope is another matter.

"More broadly though, if the UK goes to WTO rules, non-EU exporters could smell a major market opportunity, something that is not lost on the Argentineans, Australians, Chileans, New Zealanders, South Africans and Uruguayans."


This in turn could present a "significant challenge" to Danish, Dutch, Irish, Italian and Spanish exporters into the UK, "who may need to find new homes for their produce." Irish beef is likely to be particularly affected, he noted.

"Chaos creates opportunities and firms will be looking at their agility, however, as first base approaches most players in the British grocery system will be needing all this like a hole in the head, as 'lose-lose' comes to mind," Black said.

Broader Picture

The 31 October 'deadline' for the UK leaving the EU is now three months away, and while there are indications that Boris Johnson's government does not have the will of the people – as evidenced by the victory of the Liberal Democrats in Brecon and Radnorshire last night – the new Prime Minister has refused to rule out a no-deal Brexit.

But as Black noted, there is likely to be plenty of water under the bridge between now and then.


"Looking on the bright side, bringing matters to a head is necessary, be that a new agreement, a UK General Election or a second Referendum – as can kicking and procrastination on both sides is not working," he said.

Budget Measures

Yesterday, the group that represents the Irish food and drink industry, Food Drink Ireland (FDI), called on the government to include measures to address the impact of Brexit on the sector, in the forthcoming Budget.

Launching the body's Brexit submission, Paul Kelly, FDI Director commented, “Some €4.5 billion worth of food and drink exports go to the UK. In the event of a no deal Brexit and the immediate imposition of tariffs, decisive steps would need to be taken."

© 2019 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine

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