DIY chain tells Scots “Don’t Do It Yourself”

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/may/30/b-and-q-boss-kingfisher-scottish-independence-split-cheshire

 

The chief executive of B&Q owner Kingfisher has warned that the DIY group will put investment in Scotland on hold if the country splits from the UK and told Scots that from a business point of view they should vote against independence.

Sir Ian Cheshire, pictured below, said a yes vote in September’s referendum would create too many uncertainties for the international retailer to press ahead with investment.

Kingfisher’s plans to almost double the size of the Screwfix chain in Scotland by adding 23 branches would be shelved, he added.

Cheshire joined the chief executive of Diageo, which controls 40% of whisky production, in expressing concerns about the impact of independence as the referendum entered its official campaign period before the vote on 18 September.

In a planned intervention speaking at the newest B&Q warehouse in Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, Cheshire told the Press Association: “It would put a pause on everything. If we have differences on VAT, currency, it just puts everything into hibernation as we try to figure out what it will mean. At the end of that we have to consider what is the trading environment.

“Because Scotland is such an important part of B&Q, there’s no way we’re going to let it go, but it would be more complicated, probably more costly and less likely to attract investment, given we could invest in 11 other countries around the world.”

The intervention by the FTSE 100 retailer’s boss is one of the strongest statements on independence from the boss of a large UK company.

The insurer and fund manager Standard Life, one of Scotland’s most famous native companies, warned in February it would move much of its business to England after a yes vote. The boss of Shell said in March that staying in the UK was better for the oil industry, which is a big part of Scotland’s economy.

Cheshire said Scotland would be able to operate effectively as an independent country but staying in the union was the better option.

“From a business point of view I would strongly not advise it … As a business, through our lens, it is clearly better to be part of the UK.”

B&Q employs more than 2,600 people in Scotland out of about 21,000 in the UK. Screwfix has 27 shops in Scotland and employs almost 400 people.

Cheshire said practical problems could include changing Kingfisher’s UK computer system and repricing thousands of products.

Ivan Menezes, Diageo’s chief executive, told the Wall Street Journal staying in the European Union was important so the production of Johnnie Walker, Talisker and other whiskies continued to benefit from trade agreements.

Menezes refused to come down on either side in the debate but said tax and currency uncertainties could damage the whisky industry, one of Scotland’s most important sectors.

“What we will fight for is keeping our industry competitive and thriving, and we’re very clear on what that requires,” he said.

Menezes made his most forthright remarks so far on independence after a Guardian investigation into Scotland’s wealth found that more than 80% of the country’s whisky industry is owned by non-Scottish companies.

The inquiry found that income owned and kept in Scotland is up to £20bn less than the headline GDP figure of £144.7bn because of the extent of foreign ownership of industries including North Sea oil and gas, finance and whisky.

Cheshire echoed Menezes’ concerns about Scotland’s future in the EU under independence. Continuing doubts about whether Scotland would keep the pound added to uncertainties for business, he added.

“Technically, the UK is part of the EU and if you leave the UK you will have to reapply,” he said. “We see a real problem here and see a real problem with the currency because I just don’t see any way in which the UK government in Westminster is going to agree to a currency union.”

The Scottish government’s white paper on independence claims there would be a smooth transition to EU membership in the 18 months between a yes vote and formal independence in 2016.

Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group, which owns Bank of Scotland, would probably have to move their head offices south of the border for regulatory reasons if Scotland split from the UK.

Airlines are more favourable to the idea of independence. British Airways and Ryanair have supported first minister Alex Salmond’s plan to cut and then maybe abolish air passenger duty.

Cheshire discussed his views on the referendum with Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont and local Labour MSP Duncan McNeil when he visited Port Glasgow.

That’s the article, now the fun begins:

 

The chief executive of B&Q owner Kingfisher has warned that the DIY group will put investment in Scotland on hold if the country splits from the UK and told Scots that from a business point of view they should vote against independence.”

 

So they wont invest in an iScotland? That’s fine, just leaves room for other business’ to grow and develop then. Also “from a business point of view” we should vote no. Well Business for Scotland would say otherwise. For too long big business had driven policy in the UK, that’s not their job. Their job is to adapt to policy, not set it.

 

Sir Ian Cheshire, pictured below, said a yes vote in September’s referendum would create too many uncertainties for the international retailer to press ahead with investment. “ Sir? Well now I see why he’s so pro union. He seems to have done rather well for himself in that respect. Again the “uncertainties” creeper in. Vague and meaningless unless you can tell us what these uncertainties are (and actual uncertainties not just the 1st scare story that has been debunked numerous times) this word is completely meaningless.

 

Kingfisher’s plans to almost double the size of the Screwfix chain in Scotland by adding 23 branches would be shelved, he added. “ – In other words, Vote Yes and we’ll not be hiring you.

 

“Because Scotland is such an important part of B&Q, there’s no way we’re going to let it go, but it would be more complicated, probably more costly and less likely to attract investment, given we could invest in 11 other countries around the world.” – Yes you could invest anywhere, but you’re in Scotland. Why? Because that’s where the opportunities are. “probably more costly” any facts and/or figures to support this? Nah, didn’t think so. “Less likely to attract investment” Scotland currently has the highest rate of inward investment that anywhere else in the UK. Also notice the “no way we’re going to let it go” like we’re an object to be used at will by these people.

 

Cheshire said practical problems could include changing Kingfisher’s UK computer system and repricing thousands of products. “ – its changing a price on a computer that updates your systems. Most supermarkets (like where I work) do that at least once a week. If they can manage it, why can’t you?

 

Cheshire echoed Menezes’ concerns about Scotland’s future in the EU under independence. Continuing doubts about whether Scotland would keep the pound added to uncertainties for business, he added. “ Lets clear this up for you. Scotland will keep the pound, either in a formal currency union or an informal one. Simple. I’m a damn fishmonger and even I understand how currency works. EU uncertainty? I suppose you’re also lobbying the UK government to renege on its EU in/out referendum too then??

 

“Technically, the UK is part of the EU and if you leave the UK you will have to reapply,” he said. “We see a real problem here and see a real problem with the currency because I just don’t see any way in which the UK government in Westminster is going to agree to a currency union.” – re-apply is not necessary, its actually just renegotiation of terms. Currency Union …… Blah. Let Westminster refuse a formal union. Scotland will use the pound informally and have £0 debt then.

 

Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group, which owns Bank of Scotland, would probably have to move their head offices south of the border for regulatory reasons if Scotland split from the UK. “ – its filling out a form at companies house and moving a plaque. Hardly exciting news.

 

Cheshire discussed his views on the referendum with Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont and local Labour MSP Duncan McNeil when he visited Port Glasgow. “ – Once again an all too often sight. The “supposed” left wing party, sucking up to big business. Makes me sick.

 

 

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