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How Brexit affects security business in Europe

How Brexit affects security business in Europe
Most of the European companies that a&s spoke with during IFSEC 2016 shrugged off suggestions that an exit vote would impact security in any big way. Here's why.

June 23 was certainly a big day for the UK and Europe, if not the rest of the world, as on that day, a slight majority of Britons voted to exit the European Union in a closed-watched referendum. The result subsequently sent shockwaves across the globe and left Britons wondering what their future might be not being a part of the EU.

Needless to say, the “remain or not to remain” question was a hot topic during IFSEC 2016 held in London from June 21 to 23, days leading up to the poll. Most of the European companies that a&s spoke with, however, shrugged off suggestions that an exit vote would impact security in any big way. Security, after all, will always be in demand regardless of how the vote turns out, according to them.

“The need for security is not driven by whether we are in the EU or not in the EU,” said Billy Hopkins, Technical Manager at IDIS Europe. “We’ve always had terrorist threats since the 70s, which is why we’ve got more ANPR (automatic numeric plate recognition) in this country than anyone else. This is why our number plates are designed for ANPR. It won’t remove the demands for security.”

One impact that may come out of a yes vote, according to experts, is the market uncertainty that it would create.

“Business hates uncertainly. People hold investment back to wait to see what happens. Even if there are people who are going to invest in new equipment and new systems, they might hold back until they see what happens,” said Alastair McLeod, CEO of Veracity. “The problem is, if Britain votes to leave the EU, then you’ve got another four or five years of uncertainty. If we vote to stay in, then everything will go back to normal. If we vote to go out, then … it’s just longer and longer uncertainty.”

Andrew Pigram, Managing Director for UK at Bosch Security Systems, gave a similar opinion. “I don’t think there will be any impact on security; the impact will be on business confidence,” he said. “It means whether people will invest in new buildings, whether we decide we need more schools or less schools, whether we think the economy will go down or up … security gets put in when the economy is moving. If the economy slows, security will slow probably.”

Another possible impact of Brexit is increased hurdle for trade between the UK and Europe. “One offshoot of Brexit that may happen is now you have to redo all the trade agreements between the EU and the UK … that all leans towards more trade protectionism, not lower barriers,” said Joseph Grillo, CEO of Vanderbilt International. “I think lower barriers are best overall.”

“If you are a UK-based company exporting to Europe, then of course I would suspect that would be a challenge for companies,” said Atul Rajput, Regional Director for Northern Europe at Axis Communications.

Even if that is what happens eventually, the companies said they will always find ways to adapt. “From Axis’s perspective we have offices all over Europe. The Axis UK office does not export into Europe; we serve our local market. In that way we as a company will not be affected so much,” Rajput said. “We have offices in France, Italy, Spain and Germany, and the distributors that we work with … they buy from our headquarters in Sweden who ships to individual countries.”

“We operate our business throughout Europe. We sell in ten different currencies. A lot of our manufacturing is in the Nordic and Eastern Europe,” Grillo said. “We almost have natural currency hedging that happens, because we’re buying in dollars and selling in seven or eight currencies. So I don’t see any big impact on us.”

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