Bloomberg Businessweek

A Costly Farewell

The politics of Brexit get the headlines, but the toll on business is grim in advance of the split
Owen Barry’s Allen laments the “lack of a deal”

Tom Westley runs one of Europe’s leading foundries out of Cradley Heath, a small town near Birmingham in the West Midlands. He produces parts from precision molds for shipbuilders and carmakers on the Continent. But he’s losing sales. The reason: Brexit. The Westley Group had revenue of about £30 million ($39 million) in 2018. In the same period, he says, the vote to quit the European Union cost the company about £2 million after multiple German buyers canceled orders from Spunalloys, one of Westley’s divisions.

European customers are sourcing outside the U.K., afraid that British exports to the Continent will face customs checks and tariffs—meaning delays and added costs—once the country leaves the EU. In Westley Group’s case, that will increase what clients pay for the copper-based-alloy castings Spunalloys sells. “It’s very disappointing, but what can you do?” says Westley, who, in the 2016 referendum, voted to remain in the EU. He was out-numbered. The West Midlands voted to leave by almost 60%—a larger proportion than the U.K.

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