Expert Insights

Expert Insights

Brexit: Key challenges for the Retail and Food & Drink Sectors

With the triggering of Article 50 and the European Union (EU) referendum vote of June 2016 still casting a cloud of uncertainty over the UK, there can be no sensible prediction of silver linings or thunderous conditions until the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU are finally defined and UK legislation is either modified or adapted to address any issues created by Brexit.

No-one can give a proper analysis of the precise changes that Brexit might impose on the retail sector but we can identify key areas to watch and, in a few cases, avenues for planning even if there is no immediate impact.

In our Retail and Food & Drink reports, we identify the key challenges from our understanding of the retail sector and provide a brief snapshot as to how we can help and support you on the legal implications of any suggested changes, whilst also looking at how these unique circumstances can present and lead to new opportunities to develop the business.

As all in the sector are acutely aware, whilst the longer term effects of Brexit are uncertain, there is continued pressure on margins due to soaring business rates, a depreciating pound, rental values and 20% VAT, fierce sector competition, rising labour costs, the introduction of the National Living Wage, the new Sugar Tax from April 2018 as well as wider wage inflation to retain good staff. A perfect storm but not insurmountable!

This increases the need for careful planning to ensure the right balance is reached between obsessive legal compliance and a sensible risk assessment approach. With the latter in mind, we have therefore prepared for you our key focus points on the legal challenges, which we assess will be of particular importance to these sectors.

Presented as brief snapshots, they are not exhaustive, and we would very much welcome discussing any other concerns or issues which would directly impact your business.

We highlight the following areas:

  1. Real Estate
  2. Commercial
  3. Intellectual Property
  4. Immigration
  5. Employment
  6. Corporate Governance
  7. Competition
  8. Food and drink information and labelling
  9. Premises licensing
  10. Environment

Whilst this report is fundamentally from a UK perspective, there are implications for other geographies.

As we do with our other international clients, if relevant, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss further with you how your business will approach these challenges, many of which have a global rather than just a UK impact.

If you would like to receive a copy of our report, please email

Our thinking

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