Miele boss Brexit comments ‘upside-down’, say retailers

Several UK retailers have dismissed Miele’s Dr Reinhard Zinkann assessment of the UK’s exit from the European Union as a “disaster that cuts off Britain from Europe”.

One retailer, Colin Roberts at Tempe House Design, told kbbreview that Dr Zinkann had “got it rather upside-down”, suggesting that his concern was not that Brexit cuts Britain off from Europe, but rather that it cuts Europe off from Britain.

In a letter to the magazine, he said: “He would be well advised to be remonstrating with his Government to ensure Britain gets the sort of deal that will mean his company can retain their tariff-free access to our market.”

Speaking at the 2018 IFA electronics trade show in Berlin earlier this month, Dr Zinkann, the company’s executive director and co-proprietor, predicted that the terms of a future EU-UK relationship would not be resolved by next March and the whole thing would be postponed until 2020.

Miele - Dr Zinkann WEB
Miele boss Dr Zinkann calls Brexit “a disaster” for the UK

Speaking to kbbreview at the event, Dr Zinkann said: “I hope that, in the meantime, the majority of the UK population changes its mind.

“The problem for the British people is that everything gets more expensive because there is really no industry in Great Britain.”

The Miele boss blamed the uncertainty surrounding the UK’s future trading relationship with the EU for hurting sales

But Roberts was not convinced and warned Miele that sales would “no doubt suffer further” if the German appliance brand had to compete with non-EU manufacturers at the same level of tariff.

Colin Blamire, the former owner of a kitchen showroom in Kent, suggested that Brexit was a convenient excuse for the decline in Miele sales, rather than as a result of “ a mixture of availability, price and after-sales issues”.

In a letter to kbbreview, Blamire said: “If he looked at that instead of what we are doing he may have more success.”

Ken Chesworth, who owns a kbb retailer in the North West, was also unimpressed with the comments made by the Miele boss.

“Of course, Dr Zinkann has branded the UK’s exit from the European Union as a ‘disaster’,” he said.

“When the EU runs a huge trade surplus with the UK and the UK even pays for the privilege of trading with the EU at a loss, how could it be otherwise for companies like Miele?”

Chesworth added: “If he is so sure it is a disaster, why isn’t he putting pressure on the EU to form a comprehensive, no-strings trade deal with the UK? The problem doesn’t lie in the UK, it lies in the EU.

“The reason for the UK voting to leave is that few people in the UK want to be part of a European super-state. It’s political.

“If the EU just removes the political elements from dealing with the UK, there is no reason for a bad outcome.”

Meanwhile, John Pearce, chief executive of Made in Britain, said that whatever happens by March 2019, UK’s exit from the EU could be an opportunity for British manufacturers to be sourcing components closer to home and use providence to their advantage.

Of Made in Britain members, Pearce said between 150 and 200 British manufacturers are in some way connected to the KBB industry and they are searchable from its online directory.

“A GDP price list won’t get more expensive once we leave the EU, and the other thing is, British-made goods will be more accessible.”

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