Collapse in sterling is ‘two-edged sword’

Shane Wilson, President of Lisnaskea Chamber of Commerce   RMGFH56

Shane Wilson, President of Lisnaskea Chamber of Commerce RMGFH56

THE fall in the value of the Sterling is a “double-edged sword” for Fermanagh businesses, with some sectors enjoying an increase in trade and others already feeling the pinch from the Brexit fallout. 

Following the ‘leave’ result in the June 23 referendum, the Pound dramatically fell to a 31-year low on the Dollar, while it also crashed against the Euro, falling to €1.17 last week. That’s  in contrast to this time last year, when the Pound was worth over €1.40, meaning local businesses struggled to attract trade from south of the border. 


While the fall in Sterling has meant a boost to retail, though, local business leaders have pointed out it’s not all one-way traffic, with those dependant on exports suffering as a result. 

Shane Wilson, chairman of Lisnaskea Chamber of Commerce, agreed it was a “double-edged sword”. 

“You can definitely see an increase in the volume of footfall,” said the local businessman. “However, we have number of people in the manufacturing sector, so we’re getting mixed feedback from members. We just have to wait until things settle down a bit.” 

Mr Wilson said there was still a lot of uncertainty following the Brexit result: “Now it’s certain Theresa May will be Prime Minister, hopefully that might help a bit.”

Indeed, since Andrea Leadsom pulled out of the Conservative Party leadership race on Monday and David Cameron announced he would be stepping down as Prime Minster today (Wednesday), leaving the path clear for Ms May to take over as Prime Minster, the Pound has rebounded slightly and was  sitting at €1.19 yesterday. 

Mr Wilson said there were “mixed feelings” in Lisnaskea on the Brexit: “Again, it all depends what sector you’re in. Right now, the biggest challenge is getting things to settle down and then moving forward.”

John Treacy, general manager of Fermanagh Enterprise, said his retail members had also seen an increase in trade on foot of the fall in Sterling. 


“There is an increase in customers, and any increase in footfall will benefit traders in the short term,” he said, adding it was good timing with the onset of the holiday period. “It’s already showing, the town seems busy. People are travelling here.”

He added, however: “We do have some businesses who export and it will work against them.”

Mr Treacy said the fall in Sterling was only a short-term benefit of the Brexit vote, and also added there remained a lot of uncertainty over the future, which was bad for business in the long-term. 

He said while Fermanagh Enterprise was currently doing well, with almost 100 per-cent occupancy, the body was “very, very anxious” about the future” as they depended heavily on European funding from the Social and Rural Development Funds. 

“Things are going well now, but we need to think three-five years ahead, and we can’t do that right now,” he said. “We’re always looking forward, but we’re looking into a bit of an abyss at the moment.” 

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