Looming Brexit already affecting Brit SMEs in Spain

Published:  9 Apr at 6 PM
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Tagged: Spain, UK, Euro, England
UK expat SMEs in Europe have feared Brexit’s possible effects on their businesses ever since the referendum result was announced.

It’s not just new expat businesses in EU member states which are likely to be affected by Brexit, as one long-term Scot in Spain has now found out. Gary Routledge arrived in the Andalusian town of Jaen 10 years ago, and opened a bike shop as soon as he’d settled in. The venture became successful, with Gary believing he’d created his new life just as he’d planned, until the June 2016 referendum forced him to change tactics.

Even although Brexit rule changes won’t apply until after the agreed one year extension programme, he immediately applied for Spanish residency in order to be sure he could stay and still operate his business. However, over the past year, Brexit has dramatically altered the way he does business, as he’s now had to stop ordering bicycle parts as well as the bikes themselves from the UK.

Sterling’s dramatic drop has meant his UK-manufactured bikes cost 15- 20 per cent more than before the referendum. He’s now stocking up on their Spanish equivalents, and it’s the same story with parts, meaning the UK loses out not only from his orders, but also on orders from the wholesalers he deals with.

However, it’s not all bad news for UK expat entrepreneurs in Europe, as Donna Saunders found when she noticed a Spanish niche market gap which needed filling. She'd discovered Spanish provisions for pets in general and dogs in particular were lagging far behind British standards and seeing an opportunity, she opened The Dog House, a joint dog hotel/training centre set in the hills behind Malaga. She’s now working 24/7 to keep up with the demand for behavioural issue troubleshooting as well as dog-sitting services. She’s amassed 300 clients, but is now selling the business as she has far to little time for herself.
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