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Walpole CEO issues Brexit letter and sets up workshop to discuss implications

Lauretta Roberts
01 July 2016

Walpole chief executive Michelle Emmerson has published a letter on Brexit urging members to remind themselves of the certainty that "the quality and the enduring heritage of the goods we make and the services that we provide are desired around the world, both in Europe and beyond."

She has also revealed that the body which represents the luxury industry, including many fashion brands and retailers such as Harrods, Burberry and Alexander McQueen, would be establishing a member workshop in the near future to discuss a British exit from the EU.

In the letter published on Walpole's website Emmerson sought to reassure Walpole members by saying they "should find encouragement in the fact that British luxury goods and services are sought by customers from all around the world, whether they are bought here or as exported products. Europe is a big market, but by no means the only one."

However she added that while Britain had voted Brexit "it does not seem to be in anyone’s interests to abandon a single market in which goods move freely. Therefore, it is vital that we retain open access to the European market and throughout negotiations, we shall urge the government to fight to promote and protect the interests of the luxury industry - worth over £32bn a year to the UK and employing 113,000 people across the UK."


Walpole's Michelle Emmerson

She pledged that Walpole would strike up connections with the new ministerial team in Westminster once it was in place and that it would work with its European counterparts through ECCIA (European Cultural and Creative Industries Alliance) to ensure "stability and collaboration".

Walpole will be organising a member workshop to discuss the implications of the vote and will be announcing details of that shortly. Emmerson's letter was published to co-incide with yesterday's Walpole Luxury Summit 2016: The Americas, which was held at BAFTA in London.

Speakers included jeweller Stephen Webster, Harrods managing director Michael Ward, Marigay McKee founder of MM Luxe Consulting (and former president of Saks and chief merchant of Harrods), Charlotte Olympia CEO Bonnie Takhar and Mulberry brand director Anne-Marie Verdin.

Emmerson's pledge to seek to retain access to the single market echoed the sentiments of other trade bodies including the British Retail Consortium, the UKFT and the British Fashion Council who all said protection of trade deals was the number one agenda point following the Brexit vote.

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