What to make of Black Friday?

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s U.K. Asda Supermarket Entices Shoppers With Black Friday Deals

UK shoppers have rushed to buy Black Friday bargains, as retailers and payment firms report strong sales activity for the annual discount event. Barclaycard said it had seen a record number of transactions on Friday, while Argos, John Lewis and Currys PC World reported a surge in orders. Online retailers said initial figures indicated Black Friday, now into its third year, had topped expectations. We witnessed some crazy scenes in the past like at this ASDA (one step too far but across the pond it is even worse). But the question at Boardroom level is whether this is good for business. Here is my perspective in a debate that will go on for some years to come.

What is Black Friday?

Not sure how many people do know where it stems from. When my CEO asked me what it was called in France “Vendredi noir” I preferred to answer that all Fridays are black in France due to the amount of strikes happening at this time of year.

Black Friday is the day following Thanksgiving Day in the United States (the fourth Thursday of November). Since 1932, it has been regarded as the beginning of the Christmas shopping season in the U.S., and most major retailers open very early (and more recently during overnight hours) and offer promotional sales. Black Friday is not an official holiday, but California and some other states observe “The Day After Thanksgiving” as a holiday for state government employees, sometimes in lieu of another federal holiday such as Columbus Day. Many non-retail employees and schools have both Thanksgiving and the following Friday off, which, along with the following regular weekend, makes it a four-day weekend, thereby increasing the number of potential shoppers. It has routinely been the busiest shopping day of the year since 2005, although news reports, which at that time were inaccurate, have described it as the busiest shopping day of the year for a much longer period of time. Similar stories resurface year upon year at this time, portraying hysteria and shortage of stock

What are people looking for during Black Friday and potential psychological impact?

products

According to Retail Week, most consumers will be looking for electricals, as well as, clothing bargains. IMRG predicted that over £1.27bn would be spent.

Andy Webb, of the Money Advice Service, said: “A third of people felt pressure to spend more than they could afford during the whole of Christmas. That leads into debt.”

For some, this can have a serious impact on their wellbeing.

“Short-term discounts encourage consumers to purchase immediately, rather than reflecting on whether you really need to buy a product and if you can afford it,” said Katie Evans, head of research and policy at the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute.

“This can be particularly difficult for people experiencing mental health problems, who sometimes find it harder to resist impulses and might find that shopping makes them feel better, at least for a short while.”

The institute is calling for new rules to allow people to opt out of email marketing or to set a daily spending limit in online shops.

Is Black friday driving profits?

This is the question that has been going on for the last three years at Boardroom level.

Reasons to hate it:

Paul Martin, KPMG’s UK Head of Retail, said: “For retailers, it has always been questionable whether Black Friday really benefits them in the long-run, and in the current environment of rising costs and squeezed margins – perhaps it’s even more so.” I would agree that this is like taking drugs (analogy of course). Give your customers a shot to make them fill good but it has no lasting impact. Last night watching BBC news I saw Peter Ruis’s (CEO Jigsaw) interview, whereby he declared themselves Black Friday refuseniks. His main argument is “In fashion, over 50% to 60% of Black Friday purchases are returned. It stays in the supply chain two or three weeks, churns around and everyone’s lost the chance to sell it, and it just goes straight into the sale at 50% to 60% off. It is a double whammy: loss of profit, loss of margin, and that product just sitting around in supply chains”. Hard to argue against, right? Well not so sure, that is my opinion.

  • Loss of profit and margins? It is all about volumes. Retailers have to work out their equilibrium point. If you manage to drive your revenue by having greater output at a bigger pace than you increase costs (which must include your returns costs). However, I do agree that you have a loss of margins, unless you buy products specifically for the occasion.
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  • Products just sitting in the supply chain. For me this is down to forecasting and being confident in your supply chain management. Very easy to write but damn complex to run.
  • Negative brand impact. Discounting is never a happy recipe for brand reputations. it devalues your products. For an established brand, discounting can have an adverse affect on value. Quality and price do not exist as isolated concepts in consumers’ minds. They are interrelated. Research has shown that deep discounts do cause the consumer to believe that something is wrong. Frequent discounting serves to lower the value of the brand because of an almost subconscious reaction by the consumer who believes that quality also has been lowered. Or, in a “value rebound,” consumers begin to perceive the everyday price as too high. The brand is then bought only on deal.

Reasons to do it:

  • Market share/share of wallet: Like any business person my aim is to increase volumes and drive costs down but the reality in a competitive environment is that it is very difficult to do either, especially if you have access to little innovation. Therefore, an event like Black friday is an opportunity worth recognising. It is even harder nowadays when you are not just competing against other high street players but arguably the all world (thank you ecommerce). I find it very difficult to argue against being part of black Friday. Not because I like it, but because if you don’t you become isolated and one or many of your competitors will jump in the space.

Conclusion

My question to businesses who don’t take part in Black Friday is whether they feel that their customers brand loyalty is that high that there is little risk of losing them to competitors (you must have high confidence in your product offering, pricing structure and channel distribution). If the answer is low risk then continue to sit outside but if the answer is high then I am afraid that as you read this post you will already be against it.

Now if you are a football club (low risk of switching allegiance), I would understand but even the likes of Apple answered no to this question and took part yesterday. We are talking of a premium brand with high loyalty customers.

The reality is that core customers only account for a small percentage of your database and, although the most precious segment (profit wise), how much additional incremental growth can you drive from them? Acquisition must be high on your agenda and you must invest and fight for it to grow your active database. Also recognise the channels dynamics. Your competitors are not based in a 40 miles radius, they are all over the world and are called Amazon, Zalando, etc.

Finally, you can’t ignore the macro economic factors. Inflation is kicking in and next year all imports will become more expensive. The pound is weakening and businesses have not hedged for the next 5 years.Therefore, as costs go up, businesses will be under pressure to increase prices, which will suppress demand (simple supply/demand economic model). Consumers are not ignorant to this fact and events like Black Friday can only grow in my opinion as people will be hunting for bargains.

Looking forwards to your opinions 🙂

Benoit Mercier

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Real Madrid Stadium Tour

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Well after a well deserved summer break, it is time to start again our journey to visiting as many football stadiums as possible. This time our journey takes us to Real Madrid, #1 football club in the world. Why Real Madrid some of you may ask. Simple, I am on a well deserved holiday in Malaga, South Spain, and agreed with my wife to do the 500km journey to Madrid to visit the famous Santiago Bernabeu. She is a Saint or can’t be bothered talking memoit of it.

Real Madrid

Founded in 1902 as Madrid Football Club, the team has traditionally worn a white home kit since inception. The word Real is Spanish for Royal and was bestowed to the club by King Alfonso XIII in 1920 together with the royal crown in the emblem. The team has played its home matches in the 85,454-capacity Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in downtown Madrid since 1947. Unlike most European sporting entities, Real Madrid’s members (socios) have owned and operated the club throughout its history.

In domestic football, the club has won a record 32 La Liga titles, 19 Copa del Rey, nine Supercopa de España, a Copa Eva Duarte, and a Copa de la Liga.[14] In international football, the club has won a record 11 European Cup/UEFA Champions League titles, a joint record three Intercontinental Cups, two UEFA Cups, three UEFA Super Cups and a FIFA Club World Cup.

Santiago Bernabeu stadium

The Santiago Bernabeu stadium is located in the district of Chamartín of Madrid. It occupies the block bounded by the Paseo de la Castellana and the streets of Concha Espina, Padre Damián, and Rafael Salgado. Nearest subway station is Santiago Bernabéu on the Line 10.

On 22 June 1944, the Banco Mercantil e Industrial bank granted a credit to Santiago Bernabéu and Rafael Salgado for the purchase of the land adjacent to the old Ramin Amin. On 5 September 1944, architects Manuel Muñoz Monasterio and Luis Alemany Soler were hired and the structure on the site began to give way to the new stadium. On 27 October 1944, construction work on the stadium began.

The Nuevo Estadio Chamartín (English: New Chamartín Stadium) was inaugurated on 14 December 1947 with a match between Real Madrid and the Portuguese side Os Belenenses, which resulted in a 3–1 victory for Los Blancos.[3] The stadium had an initial capacity of 75,145 spectators, 27,645 of which had seats (7,125 covered) and 47,500 for standing fans. Sabino Barinaga was the first player to score in the new stadium.

The first major renovation occurred in 1955. On 19 June of that year, the stadium expanded to accommodate 125,000 spectators. Thus, the Madrid coliseum became the biggest stadium of all the participants of the newly established European Cup.

On 4 January 1955, after the General Assembly of Members Compromisaros, it was decided that the stadium adopt its present name in honour of club President Santiago Bernabéu.

In May 1957, Real Madrid used electric stadium lighting in a game against Sport Recife of Brazil.

Following a series of spectator fatalities in the 1980’s (most notably the Heysel Stadium in Belgium and the Hillsborough Stadium in England), English authorities released the Taylor Report on how to improve football spectator safety in English venues. UEFA followed suit across Europe. The stadium was forced to create separate shortcuts to different stadium sections and seats for all spectators. In the 1990s, the Santiago Bernabéu went through a large expansion and remodeling. The board of Ramón Mendoza awarded the project to Gines Navarro Construcciones, S.A.

As a club representing the rich and the powerful of Spain, Real Madrid has a very demanding clientele.[4] When Florentino Pérez became the president of the club, he launched a “master plan” with one goal: to improve the comfort of the Santiago Bernabéu and the quality of its facilities, and maximise revenue for the stadium.

Pérez invested €127 million in five years (2001–2006) by adding an expansion to the east side of the stadium, as well adding a new façade on Father Damien street, new costumes, new boxes and VIP areas, a new stage in honour of the east side, a new press area (also located on the east side), a new audio system, new bars, integration of heating in the stands, panoramic lifts, new restaurants, escalators in the tower access, and implementation of the multipurpose building in Father Damien street.

The stadium Tour

Well on a sunny Tuesday morning off we went and got the metro, line 10, that took us directly to Santiago Bernabeu. I must say that I was unsure how my son would behave as he is in the middle of his terrible twos. As you arrive in front of the Bernabeu, you must make your way towards gate 7, tower B, which is on the left handside when facing the stadium. There you can buy your tickets. You should know that the basic stadium tour is self guided. In this respect, it is very much the same concept than Arsenal. However, you can get a guide, but it will cost you an extortionate 170 € to do so.

Once this is done you go to tower C and go through two checks of airport style security. This time I did not take the pram but you can do so. However, if there are some lifts, it is not completely pram friendly so be prepared to do some lifting.

We got to the top of the stadium and there we had an amazing view. If from the outside it looks old and kind of ugly (looks like a block of concrete), inside it is an ansolute gem. Quite similar to Old Trafford. Unlike many European stadiums, you are quite close to the pitch and you have a good view right at the top. Time to take few pictures and we make our way towards the museum. You have some amazing pieces of history and shed lots of videos on huge screens (10m long!), I want the same at home :). You get to see all 10 Champions League trophies. Wait a minute have they not won there 11th “La Undecima” this year against local rivals Athletico Madrid? Of course but they keep it for the end where you get to take a picture with it for 11 € small format or double for big format. I must say that it is a must to have your pocture taken with the “Big Ears” cup for any football fan. I can now say that I got to touch the original Champions League Cup (also great money maker).

You then get to mid tier level and it is the first time you can access the stands. At that point the sun is shinning nicely and you can enjoy a panoramic view (see picture at the top). You also can eat a bite and drink in the concourse, which is always handy to keep a 2 years old happy. The pitch is immacualte and younhave those UV lights on where there is no sun. Unfortunately, no guide to tell me how much it cost but can only be in the range of £1m to £5m.

You then make your way to pitch level. I must say that it is impressive. You feel really close to the pitch. I can imagine how much pressure the players are under when the crowd is turning on them. Having played at Old Trafford, I should add Santiago Bernabeu to my bucket list. We make our way to the bench. Well you call it bench, I call it 5 stars luxury seats. The issue of having a self guided tour is that there is no regulation of the flow of people and therefore you have a real bottle neck in key areas, such as pitch side. However, I managed to get my son squeezed in one of the seats and take a picture. I told him not to get too comfy as his place should be on the pitch.

We did not stay too long there for obvious reasons and made our way down the small tunnel that the players take (10 steps down from the pitch). Same principle than Anfield for those who have been there. We make our way up to the home dressing room (alongside the metal fence that seperates the home and visitors players in the tunnel that again you can see on tv). Shame there is no guide as I would have loved to know why they decided to put such a fence (what event caused that to happen – a feisty el clasico?).

The home dressing room is of average size. Now some of you will be highly interestednin knowing where the best player on the planet seats. Here you go:

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Each locker is personalised. It is quite a confined area with two indoor bicycles, showers, pool, and 1 toilet (can’t be having more than one player with a stomach bug, unless you do like Robbie Savage and use the ref’s one).

The final part of the tour is the press room. Way bigger than Villa but much smaller than Man City. There you can take your picture and the desks are basic wooden tables (they did retain a bit of the working class football essence!).

As any good stadium tour you finish it in the megastore and of course you buy your champions league picture (how can you not!)

This concluded an excellent day out and one I would strongly recommend to do.

Official information regarding the stadium tour:

http://www.realmadrid.com/en/tickets/bernabeu-tour

Cost: 20 € adult
Stadium architecture: 10/10
Stadium history: 10/10
Stadium Tour: 6/10 (at least with Arsenal you had headphones explaining some history)
Overall mark: 9/10

Benoit Mercier

Dedham in Essex

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Well in our UK tour, we decided to go to Essex and visit some family. As the weather was stunning, we decided to go to Dedham about 20min from Colchester. Dedham is a village within the borough of Colchester in northeast Essex, England, on the River Stour and the border of Essex and Suffolk. The nearest town to Dedham is the small market town of Manningtree.

Dedham is famous for being the village of John Constable. Dedham is at the heart of ‘Constable Country’ – the area of England where Constable lived and painted. Constable attended the town’s Grammar School (now the ‘Old Grammar School’ and ‘Well House’), and he would walk to school each morning alongside the River Stour from his family’s home in East Bergholt. Many of Constable’s paintings feature Dedham, including Dedham Mill, which his father owned, and Dedham Parish Church, whose massive Caen stone and flint tower is a focal point of the surrounding Dedham Vale.

Upom emtering the village, follow the car park sign. There are plenty of spaces but not suprisingly they do fill quite quickly. Aim to get there for 11am.

Then make your way to the right (opposite direction to the village) and pass the reconverted mill and on the right you will see a pub restaurant. There you can hire a boat for the hour to go along the river Stour. On a sunny day it is amazing. Once completed you can have a picnic and an ice cream by the river and do the couple of miles to the Constable house (very pretty)

The village itself is beautiful and a cream tea is waiting for you in front of the Church. A great family day

Benoit Mercier

 

World of football gone mad

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I have read this morning that United was ready to pay £125m to secure Pogba’s services for the next 5 years, of which 20% will go directly in the player’s pocket. Have they gone mad? I love football but these sums are disrespectful to the fans. The average fan earns about £20k to £25k. Pays £40 on average for a ticket, which makes a working class sport more expensive than attending a play at the theatre. These huge sums of cash that the Clubs have, could easily cut the ticket prices to £5. The economics makes sense but one day I hope those at the top of the hierarchy, they will wake up and impose a transfer cap as well as basic salary cap, which would also help on the competitiveness of the league, stop buying foreign players and promote home nurtured players. People fell back in love with football last year when Leicester won it. Why? Not just because of their football but because they did so on the cheap (more realistic amount in my eyes anyway). Ranieri said few days ago that the big Clubs would kill them! Well force is to admit that he is right. And what an example does it set to these young lads. Drop out of school and play footie you could earn millions rather than study hard to secure a decent job that will never pay that much. These football players don’t deserve it but nor can they be hold accountable. If I was in Pogba’s shoes I would do the same. We always come back to the same point, people at the top need to regulate the sport and market. Utopia, this is where I wake up and look at the sums involved and all the corruption involved (disgusted just thinking about it). As a United fan I should rejoyce at the fact that a world class player is about to join us but the reality is, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The cynics would say that I would have to stop paying my Skysports and BT sports subscriptions and stop paying to go to the grounds. But why should I, when all I want to do is watch a good game of football. Instead I will go and play with my son in my local park at least it will feel like a real world to me.

Benoit Mercier

Most beautiful villages, towns and cities in England

From chocolate box rural hamlets to stunning coastal communities, Britain is home to some of the most charming villages in the world. You never know your own backyard until you leave. I have decided to visit with my family some of the most beautiful villages in England. I have been fortunate to live in the most pretty county in England for 15 years, Yorkshire, but what else has England to offer? Well the response is simple. A lot. I want to make the most of the British Summer and visit as many places as possible. So look out for my new section “England Must See Places”

Castle Combe

Often referred to as ‘the prettiest village in England’, Castle Combe in the Wiltshire Cotswolds is a picturesque little community nestled on the edge of the Bybrook River. Its small pretty streets are lined with quintessential Cotswolds stone wall cottages and its quaint beauty has attracted the attention of the silver screen – the village starred in both the 2007 fantasy film Stardust and Steven Spielberg’s Oscar nominated War Horse. Formerly an important wool industry hub, Castle Combfe’s history is still evident in its riverside cottages bearing names like ‘Weaver’s House’ and visitors can see one of the country’s loldest, medieval clocks still in use at St Andrew’s Church. It is a special place to me having lived in Chippenham with my parents and often came for a stroll on Sundays. The car park is at the top of the village about 5min walk.

Lacock

Another amazing village in Wiltshire that I am fond of. Afterall my first crush was on a girl from Lacock, what is it not to lile 🙂 Lacock village is a firm favourite for film and TV producers, most notably for its picturesque streets and historic cottages, untouched by modern alterations. The village’s most famous appearances include ‘Downton Abbey’, the BBC’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Cranford’, and the films ‘Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’ and ‘Wolfman’. There’s lots to discover in Lacock village; quaint cottages, the old workhouse, the medieval tithe barn, the old lock-up and the village church

Bibury

2 weeks ago my wife told memthat she had come across what looked like an amazing village in the Cotswolds. Well once we arrived there in a basking sunshine, the view was stunning. Bibury is a village and civil parish in Gloucestershire, England. It is on both banks of the River Coln which rises in the same (Cotswold) District and which is a Thames tributary. The village is centred 6.5 miles (10.5 km) northeast of Cirencester. Arlington Row here is a nationally notable architectural conservation area depicted on the inside cover of all United Kingdom passports. It is a main tourist destination for tourist visiting the traditional rural villages, tea houses and many ornate protected buildings of the Cotswold District, accordingly it is one of six places in the country featured in Mini-Europe, Brussels. You can park by the Church and make your way up to the village along the stream. You will see a little bridge, cross it and you will get to the famous hilly street. Then continue straight and you get to the farm where you can have a picnic and feed the trouts. It cost about £8 per adult. Worth it you can even have a bbq and cook what you fish. Once you are done do stop by the church.

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Canterbury

I had heard a lot about the city from my parents but could not remember it. So knowing that another beautiful sunday was ahead of us, we decided to pack our bags and head straight to Canterbury. It took us just under 1h30 to drive to Kent bit again what a worthwhile journey. The City is small and beautiful. From the Cathedral to Christ’s college (by the way £32k tuition fee per year!) Canterbury has many places to showcase. Our favourite one was to go punting. Cost us £20 bit our little one loved it. If you are in the City do take the time.

Fordwich

After visiting Canterbury, keep a bit of time to travel few miles to a tiny village called Fordwich. It is a very small town and a civil parish in east Kent, England, on the River Stour, northeast of Canterbury. It is the smallest community by population in Britain with a town council. Its population increased by 30 between 2001 and 2011. Although many miles inland, it was the main port for Canterbury, which traded directly with London and Channel ports and indirectly with the near Continent, before the Wantsum Channel silted up making the Isle of Thanet part of mainland England. You can park by the pub next to the church. Its red bricks make the whole village incredibly beautiful and should be on your list to do on a beautiful summer day.

Benoit Mercier

 

Keep calm and Carry on…

Keep Calm and Carry On was a motivational poster produced by the British government in 1939 in preparation for the Second World War. The poster was intended to raise the morale of the British public, threatened with widely predicted mass air attacks on major cities.

Last Friday the UK population decided to exit Europe. A sad day. Not because of the economical repercussions, not because of the immigration debate but simply because, we now have a broken European continent, in which a poster like the one above could make a re-appearance. The basis of Europe was to avoid wars. Now there is a greater probability tomorrow than there was yesterday.

Most Leave campaigners, some of my friends, were jubilant and shouting “we have our country back”. My question to them all is at what cost. Are they prepared for years of austerity? (strongly dismissed by my Leave friends). The pound will be close to parity, oil prices are going up, inflation is around the corner and jobs will be cut. The other main argument is Europe is costing us too much money. Of course it is. The UK like France and Germany high the high earners and therefore must contribute accordingly. Now most Leave campaigners I have met or heard say that it is not fair. Well my response is always the same. You live in a society. Do the 1% of UK citizens earning more than a £100k are happy to have to pay more tax than the others for no added value benefits? of course not. But I don’t hear 99% of the population saying it is not fair. So why at a macro level point of view it is suddenly unfair for the UK to contribute more than lets say Poland?

My belief is that UK citizens should never have been allowed to vote on such a crucial matter (but one would argue that this referendum is not legally binding). This is why you have politicians, that understand better the political and economical repercussions (would a CEO ask his employees their opinion when defining a strategy?). This vote should go to the house of Commons. People have been sold a dummy and Boris is getting what he wants, the PM hot seat. It is the same man that wrote just two years ago that the EU had ‘helped to deliver a period of peace and prosperity for its people’. Smooth Boris!

As a pro European I woke up a minority but I can’t help believe that in 2 years time, I may just be in a majority, unless of course, if I will be shipped backed to Britanny in a Farage’s container. By the way, just a note on immigration, there are more Irish living in the UK  674,786 people in England (1.4 per cent of the population) than any other European countries (https://fullfact.org/europe/immigration-and-eu-referendum/). Really looking forward to the immigration policies. On a more serious note, no one can fully predict the future, but was the risk worth taking? Maybe we should have done a decision tree.

Finally, if there is some positive out of it, it is that I hope it will shake other European countries and lead to a review on how Europe is being ruled. There are clearly a lot of issues to tackle and some excellent points raised by the Leave campaigners. I just hope that Brussels won’t dismiss the issues.

Benoit Mercier

Hot topic: Understanding Brexit

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As a European and firm believer in its benefits, I thought I would try objectively to represents both camps arguments and conclude by giving my personal opinion. However, I will start by explaining what the Brexit is about as I feel very few people understand and/or realise the importance of this referendum. The BBC website did an excellent piece on presenting what is happening and why.

What is the Brexit?

What is happening?

A referendum is being held on Thursday, 23 June 2016 to decide whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union.

What is happening?

A referendum is basically a vote in which everyone (or nearly everyone) of voting age can take part, normally giving a “Yes” or “No” answer to a question. Whichever side gets more than half of all votes cast is considered to have won.

Why is a referendum being held?

Prime Minister David Cameron promised to hold one if he won the 2015 general election, in response to growing calls from his own Conservative MPs and the UK Independence Party (UKIP), who argued that Britain had not had a say since 1975, when it voted to stay in the EU in a referendum. The EU has changed a lot since then, gaining more control over our daily lives, they argued. Mr Cameron said: “It is time for the British people to have their say. It is time to settle this European question in British politics.”

What is the European Union?

The European Union – often known as the EU – is an economic and political partnership involving 28 European countries. It began after World War Two to foster economic co-operation, with the idea that countries which trade together are more likely to avoid going to war with each other. It has since grown to become a “single market” allowing goods and people to move around, basically as if the member states were one country. It has its own currency, the euro, which is used by 19 of the member countries, its own parliament and it now sets rules in a wide range of areas – including on the environment, transport, consumer rights and even things like mobile phone charges. However, the BBC miss the most important point. The EU was created in order to avoid a third World War and ensure that state members would not fight with each other.

What will the referendum question be?

“Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?”

What does Brexit mean?

It is a word that has become used as a shorthand way of saying the UK leaving the EU – merging the words Britain and exit to get Brexit, in a same way as a Greek exit from the EU was dubbed Grexit in the past.

Who will be able to vote?

British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens over 18 who are resident in the UK, along with UK nationals living abroad who have been on the electoral register in the UK in the past 15 years. Members of the House of Lords and Commonwealth citizens in Gibraltar will also be eligible, unlike in a general election. Citizens from EU countries – apart from Ireland, Malta and Cyprus – will not get a vote.

Pros and cons of Britain voting to leave Europe

Membership fee 

For: Leaving the EU would result in an immediate cost saving, as the country would no longer contribute to the EU budget. Last year, Britain paid in £13bn, but it also received £4.5bn worth of spending, “so the UK’s net contribution was £8.5bn”. That’s about 7 per cent of what the Government spends on the NHS each year.

Against: According to Martin Wolf, a well respected economist from the Times, “the net fiscal cost is a mere 0.5 per cent of gross domestic product. Moreover, this could be regained in full only if the UK abandoned altogether its preferential access to the EU market. The UK is also one of the least regulated high-income economies. Its recent labour market performance demonstrates its continuing (and remarkable) flexibility. A study from the Centre for European Policy Studies adds that only “6.8 per cent of UK primary legislation and 14.1 per cent of UK secondary legislation” was passed in order to implement EU law.

Trade 

For: Ukip leader Nigel Farage believes Britain could follow the lead of Norway, which has access to the single market but is not bound by EU laws on areas such as agriculture, justice and home affairs. Leading Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson, meanwhile, has proposed adopting a Canada-style trade arrangement. “I think we can strike a deal as the Canadians have done based on trade and getting rid of tariffs” and have a “very, very bright future”, he said. The idea was quickly dismissed by the PM, who said it would mean “years of painful negotiations and a poorer deal than we have today”. Eurosceptics argue that the vast majority of small and medium sized firms do not trade with the EU but are restricted by a huge regulatory burden imposed from abroad.

Against: The EU is a single market in which no tariffs are imposed on imports and exports between member states. “More than 50 per cent of our exports go to EU countries”. Britain also benefits from trade deals between the EU and other world powers. “The EU is currently negotiating with the US to create the world’s biggest free trade area,” says the BBC, “something that will be highly beneficial to British business.” Britain risks losing some of that negotiating power by leaving the EU, but it would be free to establish its own trade agreements. Moreover, “If Britain were to join the Norwegian club,” says The Economist, “it would remain bound by virtually all EU regulations, including the working-time directive and almost everything dreamed up in Brussels in future.” And it would no longer have any influence on what those regulations said. Martin Wolf states that the argument that the UK should leave because a eurozone break-up would damage the UK economy is simply not valid. “If the eurozone broke up in a disorderly fashion, the damage to its closest partners might be substantial. Yet the EU will remain the UK’s biggest trading partner indefinitely. Thus the UK would be damaged by a eurozone break-up, whether in the EU or not. Arguing that leaving would shield the UK against such a disaster would be like arguing Canada should leave the North American Free Trade Agreement, to avoid a US financial crisis. It makes no sense”.

 

A study by the think-tank Open Europe, which wants to see the EU radically reformed, found that the worst-case “Brexit” scenario is that the UK economy loses 2.2 per cent of its total GDP by 2030 (by comparison, the recession of 2008-09 knocked about 6 per cent off UK GDP). However, it says that GDP could rise by 1.6 per cent if the UK was able to negotiate a free trade deal with Europe – ie to maintain the current trade set-up – and pursued “very ambitious deregulation”. Whether other EU countries would offer such generous terms is one of the big unknowns of the debate. Pro-exit campaigners argue that it would be in the interests of other European countries to re-establish free trade, but their opponents suggest that the EU will want to make life hard for Britain in order to discourage further breakaways.

Investment

Inward investment is likely to slow in the run-up to the vote, due to the uncertainty of the outcome and its consequences: that’s what happened in before the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. It is most likely that the pound/euro will be on parity £1 = 1 euro

For: Whilst Brexit campaigners suggest that, free from EU rules a regulations, Britain could reinvent itself as a Singapore-style supercharged economy. Barclays, has put forward a worst-case scenario that might benefit the Outers. It says the departure of one of the EU’s most powerful economies would hit its finances and boost populist anti-EU movements in other countries. This would open a “Pandora’s box”, says the Daily Telegraph, which could lead to the “collapse of the European project”. The UK would then be seen as a safe haven from those risks, attracting investors, boosting the pound and reducing the risk that Scotland would “leave the relative safety of the UK for an increasingly uncertain EU”.

Against: In the longer term, there are diverging views: pro-Europeans think the UK’s status as one of the world’s biggest financial centres will be diminished if it is no longer seen as a gateway to the EU for the likes of US banks. Fears that car-makers could scale back or even end production in the UK vehicles could no longer be exported tax-free to Europe were underlined by BMW’s decision to remind its UK employees at Rolls-Royce and Mini of the “significant benefit” EU membership confers. Likewise, Business for New Europe says tax revenues would drop if companies that do large amounts of business with Europe – particularly banks – moved their headquarters back into the EU, meaning many job losses in the UK.

Immigration

Under EU law, Britain cannot prevent anyone from another member state coming to live in the country – while Britons benefit from an equivalent right to live and work anywhere else in the EU. The result has been a huge increase in immigration into Britain, particularly from eastern and southern Europe.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there are 942,000 eastern Europeans, Romanians and Bulgarians working in the UK, along with 791,000 western Europeans – and 2.93m workers from outside the EU. China and India are the biggest source of foreign workers in the UK.

For: Farage says immigration should be cut dramatically, and the leaving the EU is the only way to “regain control of our borders”. Other pro-Brexit campaigners would not necessarily reduce immigration, but say that it should be up to the British Government to set the rules.

Against: while the recent pace of immigration has led to some difficulties with housing and service provision, the net effect has been overwhelmingly positive

David Cameron says that concessions he won during the renegotiation of Britain’s EU membership will reduce immigration as new arrivals will receive a lower rate of child benefit. 

Jobs

The effect of leaving the EU on British jobs depends on a complex interplay of the factors above: trade, investment and immigration.

For: A drop in immigration would, all else being equal, mean more jobs for the people who remained with higher wages

Against: Pro-EU campaigners have suggested that three million jobs could be lost if Britain goes it alone.  Labour shortages could also hold back the economy, reducing its potential for growth. Stuart Rose, former Marks & Spencer chief executive and a prominent pro-EU campaigner, conceded recently that wages may rise if Britain leaves – which would be good for workers, but less so for their employers. Writing for the London School of Economics, Professor Adrian Favell says limiting freedom of movement would deter the “brightest and the best” of the continent from coming to Britain and reduce the pool of candidates employers can choose from. Free movement of people across the EU also opens up job opportunities for British workers seeking to work elsewhere in Europe.

 

Britain’s place in the world

For: leaving the EU will allow Britain to re-establish itself as a truly independent nation with connections to the rest of the world.

Against: Brexit would result in the country giving up its influence in Europe, turning back the clock and retreating from the global power networks of the 21st century. Brexit would bring some clear-cut advantages, says The Economist. The UK “would regain control over fishing rights around its coast”, for example. But it concludes that the most likely outcome is that Britain would find itself “a scratchy outsider with somewhat limited access to the single market, almost no influence and few friends”. Britain would remain a member of Nato and the UN, but it may be regarded as a less useful partner by its key ally, the US. The American government fears that the “EU referendum is a dangerous gamble that could unravel with disastrous consequences for the entire continent”, says The Guardian.

Security

For: Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who has come out in favour of Brexit, says we are leaving the “door open” to terrorist attacks by remaining in the EU. “This open border does not allow us to check and control people,” he says. Colonel Richard Kemp, writing in The Times, says these “critical bilateral relationships” would persist regardless of membership, and that it is “absurd” to suggest that the EU would put its own citizens, or the UK’s, at greater risk by reducing cooperation in the event of Brexit. “By leaving, we will again be able to determine who does and does not enter the UK,” says Kemp, a former head of the international terrorism team at the Cabinet Office. “Failure to do so significantly increases the terrorist threat here, endangers our people and is a betrayal of this country.

Against: However, a dozen senior military figures, including former chiefs of defence staff Lord Bramall and Jock Stirrup, say the opposite. In a letter released by No 10, they argue that the EU is an “increasingly important pillar of our security”, especially at a time of instability in the Middle East and in the face of “resurgent Russian nationalism and aggression”. Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has also said the UK benefits from being part Europe, as well as Nato and the United Nations. “It is through the EU that you exchange criminal records and passenger records and work together on counter-terrorism,” he said. “We need the collective weight of the EU when you are dealing with Russian aggression or terrorism.”

My views

I must say that I am very intrigued to understand what Brits will vote in few days time. I feel that exiting would be a step backwards and a risk that I wouldn’t want my son to pay for in the future. We have been very fortunate that since the second world war we have not had any conflict in Europe. If the UK left Europe it could be the beginning of the end for the EU and who is to say that a third world war would not be on our door step. Many of you have not known these dark times but you have all read your history books. Therefore, lets confine these moments to the books and let’s make sure that we do not write any new chapters.

My views on Trade

I work for a Fashion British retailer. British fashion is highly trendy in Europe and trade is growing fast. Some people believe that the Brexit would have no or little impact. I beg to differ. In the short term, I believe that it will be positive, with a most likely scenario of £/euro parity. For European citizens to buy on my website will have never been that cheap. However, the cost of sending that product to Europe will be more expensive and longer due to the potential reintroduction of tariffs.These WTO tariffs range from 32 per cent on wine, to 4.1 per cent on liquefied natural gas, with items like cars (9.8 per cent) and wheat products (12.8 per cent). The UK would also need to strike deals with other countries to leviate these barriers. Needless to say that it will be a lengthy and costly operation. It is also worth to assume that as Damian Chalmers, professor of European Union law at the London School of Economics, says the bigger threat to the UK exports would not be necessarily from WTO tariffs, but other EU states imposing new regulations and other “non-tariff barriers” to keep UK services out.

My views on investment

Simple, not appealing anymore. London is the financial capital of Europe. It would lose its status and most businesses would most likely exit their investment centres. Although I will cover this in the job section, people losing their jobs will be huge.

My views on jobs

JOB LOSSES overall, with some opportunities in few sectors. This is linked to the immigration policy that would see thousands of European migrants exiting the country. Good news? Not so sure. Yes Brits would find more opportunities but businesses would have to train and pay a lot higher wages than now. Why? Simple. It is the demand and supply concept. You will have more jobs to fill than active workers. Therefore, each employer will have to raise the wages to attract and/or retain the best workers. This will lead to a price inflation and ultimately the consumer will pay that price. We know that in inflation cycles, people spend less and save more, which is not what you need in order to stimulate the economy. The other part is that although on paper you would have more jobs to fill, part of the demand will go away with the EU migrants, therefore businesses will close down creating more unemployment.

Virgin Money chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia says a Brexit could cause UK job losses and eventually cause mortgage rate increases. Speaking to the Telegraph, Gadhia says the UK voting to leave the EU would lead to a spiral of inflation, job losses and interest rate hikes that would cause mortgages, and other financial services, to become more expensive.

My views on the housing market

Not covered by many, but I foresee a lot of social issues when it comes to the housing market. House prices in England are stupid. Why? again it is the simple rule of demand and supply. If many EU migrants leave the country, it will mean more homes become empty and thus available but 2 main issues persist for me:

  1. People paid high prices for their house and mortgages and the value of their property will fall. In fact, the interest rates are likely to go up creating a real bottle neck and putting at a stand still the housing market.
  2. Construction will stop with hundred of jobs with it.

I feel that this is a bleak future afor mortgage owners at the moment. However, if like me you are renting, you should look out for bargains as people will have to sell on the cheap.

My views on immigration

This is the topic that most pro exit center their arguments against. My view is simple once again. Immigration is good for the economy, for the culture and the development of a nation. However, I will agree that the EU is too large and should have been restricted and better policed. Some eastern European members should be excluded and other bad pupils like Greece should have been kicked out. I really feel that it is a false debate. The UK has always had borders, unlike other member states, and therefore is able to restrict who comes in and out. If there was a Brexit, what would you do with all the legal immigrants? There is no plan that is my point. Do you think state members such as France would police immigration in the same way? You can bet that the refugees in Calais would soon be in Dover. In fact some measures have already been introduced. Non-EU migrants who have spent more than five years working in the country will be required to earn £35,000 per year or else face deportation

What about terrorism? Surely it is better to work all together than in silo.

So yes to regulation but no to suppression, the economical impact would be damaging.

Conclusion

I will conclude by saying that like any relationship you will have some good and bad times. I firmly believe that the relationship that the UK entertains with the EU offers better outcomes than negatives, and you should not divorce until you have been able to work through your issues (immigration being for Brexit voters the main one). It is quite telling that the Queen (monarch) and the conservative leader David Cameron of all people are in favour of staying. If Britain did exit, I am sure that in the short term, consequences would be little but in the long term would lose out big time. But it is worth remembering that in constitutional terms, the referendum is “advisory”, not “binding”, meaning the Government can choose how to respond, and I am pretty sure they would over rule the nation’s decision.

From my point of view. Stay in the EU, renegotiate few terms and see where it takes us. After all, an ideal world doesn’t exist.

Happy voting

Benoit Mercier