Interview: will Brexit affect small businesses?

We spoke to Stephen McCarthy, owner of S&A Electrical Distribution, about his views on Brexit, and how leaving the European Union could impact his business.

25 January 2019

Hi Stephen. So, tell us a bit about your business. What do you do, and how long have you been doing it for?

We deal in electrical distribution. There are three of us within the business, and we all work directly with clients. Most of our business comes from word of mouth, but we we are currently working on building our online presence. We’ve been running for 23 years.

Why did you first decide to set up S&A Electrical Distribution?

It’s the industry I’ve been in all my life. Before I set up my own business, customers and clients told me I should go it alone and set up my own company, and I eventually made the move in ’95. It’s no easy role and can be a slog, but being your own boss means you don’t mind working so much, because whatever you get from your efforts is yours to keep.

With Brexit on the horizon, have you forecasted many challenges?

It’s looking likely that we’ll have a hard Brexit, so at least now we know what sort of route we’re on. The last two years have been full of uncertainty from not knowing what’s going to happen, and that’s what has caused business to go up and down like a yo-yo. Now that people know what’s likely to happen, I believe business will improve.

In terms of the challenges it will pose, paying duty on items that we never had to before will mean increased taxes. That obviously leads to price increases. But overall, I believe that the UK will be okay outside of the European Union.

Did you have a plan for a potential Brexit when the referendum was announced?

As a business, we took it in our stride. I didn’t have a plan as such, because as far as dealing with European countries, our involvement is quite minimal. We do deal through other people who deal with European countries, and they will have to pay more taxes so prices will likely go up. Directly, though, it doesn’t affect me very much.

If leaving the EU did have a direct impact on your clientele and business, how do you think you would have coped with Brexit?

My clients are organisations such as universities and hospitals, which will continue to operate regardless of whether we’re in the European Union or not. At the end of the day, if you need an operation, you need an operation. So things will likely continue as they were for us.

When we first voted to join the common market, only six countries were part of it, including ourselves. Now there are 28. We voted to join the common market, not to have the rules and regulations of the European Union imposed on us. I believe that it’s the European politicians who have let things get out of hand, and that’s what people have become upset about.

Brexit may have been dealt with poorly by the politicians, but at the end of the day it is what people voted for. As a business, we have to get on with things.

Thanks so much for for taking the time to speak to us, Stephen.

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