EU Referendum, Better Off Out Or In? Thoughts Of A Local Nottingham Business.

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

“I have been clear in my views throughout the campaign. 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:

First let’s explode a myth. We don’t do any business with the Department of Justice, or other Government institutions. We therefore get very little direct business as a result of EU migration.

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. We translate own brand packaging, as well as marketing materials into 15 languages. They own ELC, for whom we translate into 17 languages. Other major clients include Paul Smith, Debenhams, Next, Barbour, Mulberry, Burberry, Kettle Foods and Thorntons.

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.

Which languages do we translate, is it mainly EU or European languages? The simple answer here  is “no”. We translate into Middle Eastern and Far Eastern languages. as well as Canadian French, and Latin American Spanish. We do have clients for whom we translate into mainly EU languages. However this would be unlikely to change in the event of a Brexit.

How would Better Languages be adversely affected in the event of a Brexit?

EU referendum impact on exporters:

As our client base is predominantly exporters, anything bad for export is bad for us. Many leading retailers have been very clear that they support Remain. They believe that being in the EU is key to our future economic prosperity.

Mike Hunter comments: “I was at a training course last week. Every business present was in favour of remaining in the EU. They were a diverse set of businesses. Different sizes, as well as from different sectors. So what did they have in common? They were all exporters.”

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. His argument was that this 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. 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. It will also put inflationary pressure on our economy.

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. This allows them to improve their English skills, as well as learning more about the translation industry. Whilst here, they bring money into the city, and they also 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. One of our previous French interns has become one of our lead translators.

OK, overseas students coming to the UK, so what about UK students, I hear the skeptics ask? Well if your native language is English, you need a placement in a country that speaks the other language of your language pair. English native 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.

EU referendum and uncertainty

A BBC article this morning discusses what happens next as a result of a Brexit. Michael Gove argues that negotiating a Brexit deal could take 4 years to complete. 4 years – of uncertainty, in addition to instability. The pound has been the lowest against the dollar since the Thatcher era, on worries of a Brexit, before the EU referendum. 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.