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EU referendum, better off out or in? Thoughts of a local Nottingham business.

Posted 20/06/16

As the EU Referendum approaches this week, Mike Hunter, betterlanguages.com CEO presents the case as to why it is good for business to remain in the EU.

“I have been very clear throughout the campaign, that I think it is good for business if we stay in” says Mike, “I firmly believe that a vote to leave the EU would be disastrous for British business.”

Background, how better languages works:

  1. First let’s explode a myth: we don’t do any business with the Department of Justice, or other Government institutions, so get very little direct business as a result of EU migration.
  2. So who are our customers? The company translates into over 60 languages, and clients are predominantly retailers and food manufacturers. Clients can be multinationals, such as Mothercare, who are currently in over 60 countries. We have been sole translation suppliers to them since 2006, translating own brand packaging, and marketing materials into 15 languages, and 17 languages for ELC, who they own. Other major clients include Paul Smith, Debenhams, Next, Barbour, Mulberry, Burberry, Kettle Foods and Thorntons.
  3. How do we work? Most of our projects are multi-lingual with English as the source language, we project manage the work in-house, and work with freelance translators in many parts of the world.
  4. Which languages do we translate, is it mainly EU or European languages? The simple answer here  is “no”. We translate into lots of Middle Eastern and Far Eastern languages, as well as Canadian French, and Latin American Spanish for the US market. We do have clients for whom we translate into mainly EU languages, but this would be unlikely to change in the event of a Brexit.

So how would betterlanguages be adversely affected in the event of a Brexit?

  1. Impact on Exporters: As our client base is predominantly exporters, and we also directly export ourselves, anything bad for export is bad for betterlanguages. Many leading retailers have been very clear that they support Remain, and believe that being in the EU is key to our future economic prosperity. Mike Hunter comments: “I was at a training course last week, and every business present was in favour of remaining in the EU. What did they have in common, bearing in mind they were a variety of businesses from different sectors? They were all exporters.”
  2. Exchange rates: most economists and business leaders agree that a Brexit will impact negatively on the value of the pound. Even leading Leave campaigners largely agree with this. Nigel Farage was arguing on TV last week that a low pound is good for export, as it makes our exports more affordable. He clearly has never studied economics – or if he did he was asleep during the relevant lectures…. Although in theory this is good – Britain is a net importer of products and raw materials. A low pound raises input costs. This would directly impact on us, as we work with translators in many parts of the world, and pay in USD or Euros, a low pound is really bad for our business, and for many others, as well as putting inflationary pressure on our economy.
  3. Erasmus placement scheme: we have an excellent Erasmus funded placement scheme for Translation Masters students from European Universities. They spend 3-6 months with us, in our Nottingham offices, improving their English skills, and learning more about the translation industry. Whilst here, they bring money into the city, and they leave with a very positive view of the UK. The scheme has been very successful, with students going on to develop successful careers within the industry. 3 are currently working in different companies as translation project managers, and one of our French interns has become one of our lead translators. OK, overseas students coming to the UK, so what about UK students, I hear the sceptics ask? Well if your native language is English, you need a placement in a country that speaks the other language of your language pair, so English masters students currently have great opportunities to work in any of the other EU member states – this opportunity is likely to be denied future generations of students if we leave the EU.
  4. Uncertainty, a BBC article this morning discusses what happens next in the event of a Brexit. Michael Gove is arguing that negotiating a Brexit deal could take 4 years to complete. 4 years – of uncertainty, and instability. The pound has been the lowest against the dollar since the Thatcher era, on worries of a Brexit, whilst it has rallied in recent days, on opinion polls putting Remain ahead. Speculators clearly think a Brexit will be bad for the British economy.

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