The impact of Brexit on the flooring industry

Having just returned from Domotex in Hannover, a trade show that saw flooring experts gather together from all over the world, there was no topic more discussed than Brexit. Beyond the immediate effect of a plummeting sterling rate impacting our suppliers, with ITEC IVC losing over £1 million only days after the result was announced due to the 8% drop of the pound almost overnight – what are the longer-term ramifications? What would it mean for us? How would it affect our customers?

Immediately after Brexit we saw a lot of nervousness and reticence in the industry, with big projects being put on hold as companies re-evaluated strategic decisions taken pre-Brexit. However, the majority of these seem to be back on track – until Article 50 is actually revoked it would seem to be business as usual.

However, that is not to say Brexit won’t have an impact on the British flooring industry. Most of the raw materials used in the UK flooring industry are purchased from abroad. In fact, the UK is one of the main markets for the European carpet industry – and if importing does become a luxury this could have a significant affect upon the range of styles and lines available. There is little doubt that more money will need to be reinvested in the manufacturing arm of the country – which is being seen across a number of industries who have relied on importing for years. That being said, even if the UK did manage to increase its production rate to match the quantity and quality of that on the continent, we simply cannot compete on price. This could well prove to be the most substantial factor in the UK flooring market in years to come.

Similarly, the UK flooring industry also takes advantages of the incredibly hardworking and motivated staff, many of whom come from European countries to do jobs that UK born residents are not interested in. This could well create a dearth of labour – as demand for EU labourers will soon reach all-time highs. The UK educational sector will need to look at convincing far more school leavers to join apprenticeship programmes aimed at training in manual works. We, at AH Peck, are already looking at developing this sort of programme and training new staff from the ground up and think as time goes by, this attitude will be mirrored by companies up and down the country.

Currently, most of the health and safety regulations in the UK flooring industry are dictated by the EU so it will be interesting to see the impact of this and whether British manufactures and labourers will continue to follow EU standards – or if the government will introduce their own legislation.

Of course, when it comes to Brexit the truth is that we are dealing in hypotheticals. The one thing every economist can agree on is that Brexit represents uncertainty. And as politicians, economists and even humble flooring companies look to fill that void with guess work and estimations it doesn’t detract from the simple truth that we simply don’t know what is going to happen. So we at AH Peck choose to remain positive, we have been going on for three generations and plan to continue our legacy for a long time to come.

So if you would like to discuss any housing projects feel free to give us a call on 0208 788 1795 or drop us a line on info@ahpecklitd.co.uk