'˜Man up and lead from the front'

THE head of a £400m fuel and property business has called on Yorkshire's business leaders to '˜man up and lead from the front' following the vote to leave the European Union.

Jonathan Turner, managing director of Bayford Group

Remain voter Jonathan Turner, managing director of Bayford Group, based in Bramham, near Leeds, said although businesses may be feeling the initial effects of the Brexit fallout, it was important for leaders to remain decisive and strong.

“Our business will be affected dramatically,” he said. “The oil price and exchange rate will affect us and we are going to pay more for our fuel.”

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He added: “But we are business leaders, we have to man up and get on with it and lead from the front. Our country has spoken.”

Mr Turner was speaking to The Yorkshire Post at the Barclays Women in Business Awards, held at Bayford’s headquarters at Bowcliffe Hall.

Other Yorkshire leaders at the event, who had overwhelmingly voted to remain in the EU, expressed concern about consumer confidence as well as future wages and pensions.

Beth Butterwick, chief executive of Wakefield-based fashion retailer Bonmarche, which saw its share price fall by 6.7 per cent on Friday, said the uncertainty in foreign exchange rates and consumer confidence were a concern for the retail sector.

She added: “My view is that if you can get the political parties back in order and have a clear way forward that will pacify the country and the flux we are in.”

Gill Marchbank, chief operating officer of ResQ, which employs 700 call centre staff in Hull and recently received EU funding to open a new call centre in County Durham, said: “Our longer term worries are potential hikes to the Living Wage and employer pension contributions.”

Meanwhile, a question mark hangs over the region’s mergers and acquisitions activity. Some bankers advising companies on takeovers and initial public offerings have all but written off big-ticket activity for the rest of 2016 after the vote poleaxed company valuations and executive confidence.

Pre-Brexit jitters had already taken a toll with M&A activity in Britain and Europe this year at its lowest as a proportion of global activity since records began in 1980, according to Thomson Reuters data.

But as predictions of a long investment hiatus gathered momentum, concerns about how to ride out one of the worst years for fee earnings in living memory were rife.

Victoria Davey, partner at Leeds and Bradford law firm Gordons said: “There will be a period of people watching and waiting and uncertainty about making decisions. Certain deals will be put on hold as people wonder whether there is going to be a general election.”

The vote has left most business leaders wondering what the future will hold. Victoria Woodings, global board director at Huddersfield-based brand implementation specialist Principle Group, said: “The Brexit campaign has leveraged an independent Britain without answering any questions. Our business has offices in France, Spain and Italy and everyone has been ringing me up to ask what it all means and I haven’t got a clue.”

However, Chris Hearld, KPMG’s north region chairman, sounded a note of optimism. “We should not lose sight of the fact that this result can also lead to opportunities; a drop in the value of sterling could make the UK a magnet for trade, and the need to reshape trade policy may result in quicker decision making, and reduced red tape,” he said.