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Support the reinvention of retail and end the uncertainty: industry bodies react to Boris Johnson's appointment as PM

Lauretta Roberts
23 July 2019

The heads of fashion and retail's leading industry bodies have called upon new Prime Minister Boris Johnson to end the uncertainty caused by Brexit and support the reinvention of British retail.

Johnson was formally appointed this morning having, as expected, won the Conservative party ballot to succeed Theresa May. The British Fashion Council, British Retail Consortium and UKFT all issued their calls to him to help support the industry, which is facing its biggest challenges in at least a decade.

Both the BFC and UKFT called upon Johnson to appreciate the potential damage a no deal Brexit could have on the sector's ability to trade and compete globally and to appreciate the need to develop and attract talent to the sector.

London Fashion Week

Caroline Rush

The BFC, led by CEO Caroline Rush, CBE, said in a statement: “Since the 2016 referendum, the British Fashion Council has taken part in Parliamentary discussions, hearing and surveys and had conducted various roundtables with designer businesses to understand the main challenges we will face when the UK leaves the EU.

"We want to make sure that the fashion industry, which contributes over £32billion to the UK economy, is protected and that our designer businesses and the retail sector are still able to trade internationally, compete in global markets and secure the best talent to maintain our country’s reputation as leading in creativity and innovation. We hope that the new Prime Minister will take this into account and that the Government will work with us to provide the best possible opportunities for the sector.”

The UKFT's CEO Adam Mansell expressed concern that the appointment of a new Prime Minister didn't alter the Parliamentary arithmetic and that the uncertainty for the sector would continue as Johnson would struggle to get a deal voted through.


Adam Mansell

"The seemingly endless uncertainty is damaging the industry and leaving without a deal will cause huge problems. But the numbers in the House of Commons don’t appear to have shifted one way or the other so the Prime Minister faces the same challenges as his predecessor.

"While Brexit remains unresolved all the other highly important issues such as meaningful support for UK manufacturing, a properly funded and easy to navigate apprenticeship system and the impact of rates on the high street continue to remain a unaddressed and are slowing the growth of the industry," Mansell said.

British Retail Consortium CEO Helen Dickinson OBE also took the opportunity to raise her concerns about business rates. "We hope the new Government will commit to a full review of the broken business rates system and to collaborate with the BRC on a strategy to bolster the retail industry at this time of change," she said.

Helen Dickinson

Helen Dickinson

Dickinson also pointed out that retail is the country's largest private sector employer with 3 million employees and that "the burden of business rates and other public policy costs" put many of these jobs at risk.

"There are many pressing issues in retail and the wider economy, such as rising costs and weakening consumer demand, and we look forward to engaging with Mr Johnson and his team to promote solutions to these issues," Dickinson added.

Boris Johnson image: PA

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