05 October 2018, 14:18 PM
  • Meet the champion of SMEs and passionate advocate of facing Brexit head on
The Interview: John Stapleton

What’s coming?
Everybody, in one way or another, is affected by Brexit. It’s a big topic. In the context of food and drink, businesses have to become more aware of the effect it could have on them. There are hundreds of small businesses in the industry, and there is an elephant in the room; it’s my job to help them not feel distressed.

Is the government doing enough?
The answer is no. I do think that the UK government is a lot better at preparing and supporting SMEs for Brexit than the SMEs would be alone, but let’s not forget that there are thousands of other businesses that need support. I think the food and drink industry is overexposed to the potential affects of Brexit. You might say that Brexit brings opportunities, because it does, but there are also huge risks.

National Pride
Following the Brexit vote, more brands have associated themselves with the heritage and values of the British food industry. It’s not just about slapping the Union Jack anywhere, though, it has to be relevant. I remember seeing this happen in Ireland. Back in 2008, after the crash, almost overnight you saw the Irish flag in the grocery market. In part it’s an emotional response – consumers wanted to support the country they called home, and there was a support for local farmers and produce and products that we hadn’t seen before.

Read the entire interview in the latest issue of Speciality Food, available to download for free here.