Photo: LONDON, UNITED KINIGDOM: The Union Flag flying in front of the clock tower Big Ben, and Palace of Westminster / IR Stone / Shutterstock.com
On June 23, Britons voted to withdraw from the European Union by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin. What does this mean for Islamic Economy businesses in the United Kingdom?
Food-related businesses were most forthcoming and vocal with their reactions, with most expressing concerns about food legislation and trade tariffs especially for the imports of halal products.
Here are the first reactions, from five Islamic Economy businesses in the UK:
SIDDIKA JAFFER, FOUNDER, HALAL DINING CLUB
Much of the legislation around food safety and labelling comes from the EU. In addition, as British Muslims consume a disproportionately large share of meat, imports such as New Zealand lamb into the UK may be affected as currently the UK’s share of the imports from New Zealand are part of a single EU quota which will need to be unpicked.
For both diners and restaurants, a weakening of the pound may see a resulting increase in the cost of dining out where ingredients are imported and therefore lead to a reduced frequency of dining out.
Restaurants are already under pressure from tight margins and therefore it will become more important for them to optimise their spend.
All businesses are going to be affected by the uncertainty that has emerged from Brexit. However, for British Islamic Economy businesses, as they are developing products and services for a market that represents one of the few segments of growth, they may emerge stronger and better off than other businesses.
The Muslim consumer is increasingly affluent and is as yet underserved in comparison to other consumer segments representing one of the few opportunities for growth for businesses developing products and services to solve their needs.
IMRAN KAUSAR, CO-FOUNDER, HALOODIES
The greatest impact of Brexit on the halal industry will be due to uncertainty.
How long will it be before new trade tariffs are agreed and is it wise to commence capital investment or European expansion decisions be made? In the near term should we be looking outside the EU to grow our business?
The short-term effects of the weakening pound may benefit exporters of halal meat, but the UK is reliant upon EU imports of halal poultry.
Will we see poultry prices rise as there is insufficient domestic production capacity? If we head towards a recession, will consumer spending on more premium halal brands be affected? The new government has to act quickly to reassure businesses.
Haloodies is currently planning an EU launch programme, which we shall have to examine carefully in light of this unexpected result. While uncertainty is high, we may consider planning launches in Middle Eastern and Asian markets in preference to EU markets although for a British brand a European presence is essential.
ZOHRA KHAKU, FOUNDER & CEO, HALALGEMS
We pay some of our suppliers in US Dollars, so in the short -term we've already seen our costs increase.
The impact on people's attitudes towards eating out is yet to be seen, but our halal restaurant partners are concerned that many will cautiously start to save their income instead of spending on restaurants.
The restaurant industry has long been concerned about being able to bring strong chef talent in to the country, and Brexit has made these concerns even more palpable.
For Halal Gems we're yet to see the impact on hiring great talent and expanding freely in Europe, but the current uncertainty makes it difficult to plan. The uncertainty will last for a long time, making things much harder from a business planning point of view.
NASIM RIZVI, FOUNDER, NASIM’S HALAL BABY FOOD
My immediate reaction was that this is devastating; this will lead into the subject of import duties, which is not good for the business.
It would have been better that Britain stayed in the EU, it would make it easier to move the products around the world, and outside of UK.
At the same time, I do not think it will affect baby food directly right now, not for some years at least. Halal baby food [in the mainstream] will be a good alternative among UK produced goods.
ZAIN SAKAFI, FOUNDER, DOCTOORI.NET
British Muslims on the whole voted for remain as did most Londoners. As both of these, I find leaving the EU hard to comprehend. The Islamic Economy in the UK is strong but my feeling is its future will be tied to the rest of the economy. One benefit of being in the tech sector is that we can remain nimble.
© SalaamGateway.com 2016