Ranking corporate Brexodus – which companies left or downsized due to Brexit?

Brexit smiley face creative company

Although the UK’s exit from the EU has commandeered the nation’s focus for almost 5 years, the dust cloud is a while off settling.

Since the polarising 52%/48% result was delivered, companies throughout the country weighed up the pros and cons of moving their headquarters to familiar surroundings of EU legislation. Several post-verdict surveys gauged the nation’s business community with mixed results, many buoyed by freedom of ‘pesky EU red tape’.

You could be excused for not keeping a tally of the notable companies that wriggled free before the 1st Jan 2021 deadline. Here are 5 companies that left the UK or downsized due to Brexit:

Dyson

Sir James Dyson headshot

Referred to by many as ‘corporate Marmite’, Sir James Dyson was one of the vocal pre-vote pro-Brexit entrepreneurs. After the referendum, the UK’s richest man was outspoken about the opportunities created by shedding the EU Single Market, stating that Brexit would ‘liberate’ the UK economy. The company then hit the headlines in January 2019 confirming that they would be relocating their headquarters out of the UK.

Although the British-born billionaire’s company denied the move was a result of Brexit, many pointed to the hypocrisy of the company’s decision. Singapore was chosen as the main tax base for Dyson, a country known for incentivising multi-national companies to relocate with lengthy tax breaks, low corporation tax and no capital gains or inheritance tax.

Jaguar Land Rover

Land Rover Dick Lovett

Although both Jaguar and Land Rover of British automotive icons, they are the corporate version of a ‘hot potato’; from being a part of the British Leyland conglomerate in the late ‘60s to being subsidiaries of Ford and BMW respectively. Tata Motors acquired Jaguar Land Rover in 2008, a company that has a large share of care sales in Asia and Africa, but not quite had the same success in Europe.

Jaguar Land Rover announced in early 2019 that it would be cutting around 4,500 jobs from its UK workforce, only months after slashing a further 1,000 jobs of temporary works from its Solihull plant. The company’s CEO Sir Ralf Speth has long been outspoken about the negative consequences of Brexit, even being labelled a ‘scaremonger’ by Conservative Brexiter Bernard Jenkin.

British Steel

Factory worker in a steel factory

Britain’s relationship with steelworks is storied one, going back over 150 years, but British Steel has had a turbulent and much shorter history. The company went into liquidation in May 2019, risking 5,000 jobs and a further 20,000 jobs in the supply chain. The company asked the UK government for support to avert a ‘Brexit-related’ crisis, with sources inside the organisation saying nervous customers in the European Union had halted orders.

The company’s knight in shiny steel amour was the Jingye Group, a Chinese industrial giant that invested £70m. Politicians were quick to hop on the bandwagon with encouraging words, like Business Secretary Alok Sharma stating “The sale of British Steel represents an important vote of confidence in the UK’s steel industry.” And just like that, the Brexit cloud melted away…

JPMorgan Chase

London financial district the gherkin

J.P. Morgan’s past is entwined in Europe with Junius Morgan, father of J. Pierpoint Morgan, working in the merchant business in London in the 1850s. In modern times, the firm has offices spread across London, Bournemouth, Glasgow and Edinburgh. The Brexit vote saw leadership scurry to consider all options, eventually notifying around 200 employees that they’ll be required to transfer to Europe.

The company also moved around £174bn in assets from the UK to Frankfurt before the Brexit deadline. While maintaining that London “continues to be a very important” financial centre, the JPMorgan Chase representatives in Europe still refuse to rule out the possibility of transferring more workers to the familiarity of the EU.

Airbus

Airbus A350 1000 taking off

Tom Enders was CEO at Airbus at the height of the Brexit uncertainty and became one of the more outspoken business leaders on the matter. His frustration reached fever pitch with a strong warning in early 2019 that production could be shifted due to Brexit ambiguity. In the same statement, Enders labelled lawmakers’ failure to deal with Brexit as a “disgrace”, as well as adding “Please don’t listen to the Brexiteers’ madness.”

Guillaume Faury took over Enders’ role as CEO in April 2020 and took a softer approach towards Brexit, instead choosing to focus on the downsides of a no-deal situation. Faury said that he saw “great potential to expand” post-Brexit, but only with a deal on the table. Brexit uncertainty with the effects of COVID sprinkled in has seen the manufacturer announce that 15,000 jobs while be cut worldwide. A sombre reality considering around a tenth of the company’s 134,000-strong workforce is based in the UK.

How have you been affected?

These are just a few of the corporate losses due to Brexit, but the true toll has been felt on the SMEs around the country. Has your business been affected by Brexit? Let us know on social media or email editor@businessleader.co.uk.

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