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Burberry president says Brexit brings 'enormous potential'

Burberry’s president said Brexit uncertainty has contributed to a delay in its plans for a new factory in Yorkshire (REUTERS/Neil Hall/File Photo)
Burberry’s president said Brexit uncertainty has contributed to a delay in its plans for a new factory in Yorkshire (REUTERS/Neil Hall/File Photo)

There is “enormous” potential for growth after Brexit but tougher immigration rules must not prevent the ability to work with people from around the world, the president of Burberry said.

Christopher Bailey, who is also chief creative officer at the luxury fashion house, welcomed the possibilities for the British economy from global trade after the UK leaves the European Union.

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“It’s a much smaller world today than it has ever been in terms of being able to trade,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“The possibilities and the potential for growth, both locally here in the UK and overseas, is enormous.”

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The traditional Burberry trench coat is made in Yorkshire and Bailey said he is committed to keeping manufacturing in the UK. However, uncertainty about the outcome of Brexit had contributed to a delay in Burberry’s plans for a new factory in the region.

Plans to set up a £50 million plant at the Grade I-listed Temple Works in Leeds, which would have created 200 jobs, were put on ice following the Brexit vote.

Bailey said he was committed to keeping manufacturing in the UK (Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)
Bailey said he was committed to keeping manufacturing in the UK (Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

“We are absolutely committed to keeping our manufacturing in this country, but the new site – we are just taking a moment just to make sure that we understand the ramifications,” he said.

“There are a lot of moving parts I’m not sure anybody knows the outcome of Brexit.”

He also voiced concerns about the impact of the anti-immigration climate.

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“I feel very strongly for an open world and a world without borders and a world without walls.

“Being part of this thriving, creative culture – that openness of sharing ideas, of being able to trade in other places, to collaborate with people from different countries and cultures, is fundamental to any creative business,” he said.

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In July shareholders dealt a blow to Burberry over “excessive” executive pay, with nearly a third voting against generous payouts that include a £5.4 million share award for Mr Bailey.

He said: “Like all of us, I’m a human being and it’s not particularly pleasant. But it is also the nature of working as part of a PLC and I take that responsibility very seriously, so I care about these matters.”

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