Multinational publishers have warned of the consequences of a “hard Brexit” on their businesses, with concerns over whether restrictions on migration would hamper their ability to attract the right talent to work for them.
In an exclusive interview with The Bookseller Daily, Cengage Learning c.e.o. Michael Hansen said his company would consider moving its European headquarters out of Andover in Hampshire should a “hard Brexit” strategy be adopted by UK prime minister Theresa May (pictured).
Meanwhile Ian Hudson, c.e.o. of DK Publishing, has said the uncertainty around who will be allowed to work in the country is already impacting recruitment. He said: “I’d like to be able to provide assurance to those staff affected that their futures are secure—and I cannot. We are already seeing this affect the types of people applying for jobs with us, which impacts on the diversity of the workforce, which we all need to improve on.”
Hansen said: “Our concern on the Brexit side, which many businesses in the UK share, is Britain regressing to an isolationism is going to make it harder and less attractive for us to do business in the country. We have, for now, maintained the position of our European headquarters in London. But we will observe what transpires over the next couple of months and I will make a decision that is in the best interests of the company.”
When asked if he could move the European headquarters, which employs “hundreds” of people, out of London, Hansen confirmed: “Yes. We might move it. For us it is important that we can attract, in an easy fashion, talent to wherever our locations are. Obviously, depending on how negotiations between Britain and the EU are going, if it leads to what is now being termed a ‘hard Brexit’, I think that is going to make it harder for us to attract talent.”
Hudson, until recently deputy c.e.o. of Penguin Random House UK, added that although deals up until 2018 were not being impacted at this year’s fair, next year’s Frankfurt, where books to be published post-Brexit in 2019 would be under discussion, could be. “For our types of books, we are asking for a commitment a long time ahead,” he said, “so any lack of certainty or drop in confidence could impact us.” For now, though, he said that China and Asia remained strong territories, but there had been a dip in South American trade.
At the Conservative Party conference earlier this month, May announced that she intended to give an Article 50 notification by the end of March 2017, using a “royal prerogative”. Her opponents argue this would unlawfully remove statutory rights granted to UK citizens under the European Communities Act 1972, which made EU law part of UK law.