Keep calm and carry on: Brexit message of reassurance from businesses at Royal Norfolk Show

Royal Norfolk Show 2016. Photo: Steve Adams

Royal Norfolk Show 2016. Photo: Steve Adams

Keep calm and carry on - that was the message from hundreds of small businesses at the Royal Norfolk Show as uncertainty continued to swirl over the UK's departure from the European Union.

The first day of the Royal Norfolk Show 2016, Julie Hunt of Face to Face Finance, Martin Lake of Buy

The first day of the Royal Norfolk Show 2016, Julie Hunt of Face to Face Finance, Martin Lake of Buy Local, Sarah Ellis of Event Management and Neil Foley of Business Growth Hub. Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

And with answers thin on the ground, the prevailing mood was one of determination to succeed whatever the political weather.

Clarke Willis, chief executive of Anglia Farmers, said: 'The mood has changed. We woke up on Friday to massive shock and disbelief.

'But what has happened has happened: we have got to grasp the opportunity, roll up our sleeves and work together.'

Sarah Ellis, from Norwich-based Events Management, said it was down to small firms to keep the local economy thriving and insisted it was business as usual.

The first day of the Royal Norfolk Show 2016, Richard Dix from Rural Broandband.Picture: MARK BULLIM

The first day of the Royal Norfolk Show 2016, Richard Dix from Rural Broandband.Picture: MARK BULLIMORE


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'As small business owners we are not dealing with the EU,' she added. 'Life carries on.'

The determination to find positives was echoed in Natwest's chairman of agriculture Jimmy McLean's address to guests in the bank's tent, when he said the fall in sterling could boost the value of farming subsidies.

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But he said growth forecasts had been cut and inflation forecasts raised, and the bank's economists expected interest rates to hit zero – though not go into negative territory.

He added: 'Certainly it looks like sterling is going to be much weaker than it was a year or two ago.'

And while Vodafone warned it may move its headquarters outside the UK if Britain's negotiations did not ensure the free 'movement of people, capital and goods', the picture was less gloomy for smaller-scale firms.

Richard Dix, from Heacham-based business Rural Broadband, voted for Britain to leave the EU and said he was happy with his decision.

He added: 'As country we have always been quite innovative. It is incumbent of everyone and every business to make the best of where we are.'

He said he thought the economic shock would have been 'worse than it was', and added adaptation was key.

'I started off as a pig farmer and now I sell satellite broadband. There's nothing special about me so if I can adapt and change the country should be able to as well.

'We can deal with Commonwealth countries just as well as we can with the EU.'

Julie Hunt, of Face to Face Finance and director of small business support group Buy Local, said: 'The market was prepared for whatever happened. The issues small businesses have are employing and retaining good staff.'

Neil Foley, owner of Business Growth Hub, said nothing had changed from a small business point of view. 'People still have bills to pay,' he said.

How is your business reacting to Brexit? Email sabah.meddings@archant.co.uk

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