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‘Brexit is good for business’ says language school


JAckie VErrall

BREXIT is good for business according to the boss of a language school.

Despite the snail’s pace of negotiations in Brussels and public Cabinet in-fighting, one Shoreham school owner who has been doing business in the EU for 30 years says bookings are up and the outlook is bright.

Jackie Verrall, 60, has been running English Language Homestays in Shoreham since 2001 and has spent three decades in the industry.

She told The Argus: “Business is good.

“Already we’ve booked in 100 coach-loads of students for next year.

“At 50 students per coach that’s a lot of work.

“We looked at it for this year, we only had around 85, and for next year we’re still taking bookings so it will be even more than 100.”

“So they’re not staying away, they’re not frightened of Brexit.

“And they’re not waiting to see how things work out, they’re coming regardless.”

Mrs Verrall points to the fall in the pound as the critical factor in boosting sales.

In January 2016, six months before the Brexit vote, one pound could buy 1.35 Euros. Yesterday morning it was 1.11.

That makes the buying power of the Euro, relative to the pound, significantly greater than it was before the pound’s recent decline.

That has made some commodities more expensive in the UK because goods and services purchased in pounds from the eurozone are 18 percent more expensive.

However British exports – and the sale of English lessons to European schoolchildren counts as the export of services – have become cheaper for European consumers.

Mrs Verrall said: “For the last couple of years the pound has been strong against the Euro so customers have gone elsewhere,

“A lot have gone to Ireland but now we’re pulling work back from there. The whole industry has lost work to Ireland where it’s been easy because it’s in the Euro.

“But now the pound has dropped everything is more reasonable.

“I’m not worried about the pound dropping. We sell in pounds and as long as we know we’re getting what we need to make a profit that doesn’t matter.

“We’re importing nothing so in this industry a weaker pound is good for business.”

Mrs Verrall, who lives in Shoreham, said the vote and its aftermath had caused worry among her staff but the reality of the business’s performance had been cause for reassurance.

She said: “The teaching staff are anxious and nervous – they’ve been thinking they’ll all be out of jobs.

“But they’ve been quite heartened by next year’s bookings.”

Most of the secondary schoolchildren taught by the firms, which has classrooms above Shoreham’s old Town Hall, come from Europe with a majority from Central and Eastern Europe.

When the firm’s classrooms are full, Mrs Verrall will often pass a potential booking on to a competitor rather than lose the booking altogether, but says all language schools in the area are enjoying a bumper year.

She added: “I would just say, change is inevitable, and it’s exciting.

“You have to get on with it and not be frightened. Adjust your sails, get on with it and look for a new market.”

Source: The Argus