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Brexit: Fortnum & Mason faces recruitment crisis as EU nationals look to leave UK

Upmarket department store Fortnum & Mason is struggling to recruit staff as a result of the Brexit vote, according to the chief executive of the London landmark.

Ewan Venters told the Guardian that in Fortnum & Mason’s five restaurants one in five chef posts are unfilled.

He blamed worries about anti-migrant attitudes, as well as the fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote. Sterling’s depreciation, he said, has meant that the money foreign employees are sending back home to relatives is now worth less in foreign currency terms.  

“Brexit is an alarming issue for me in terms of our ability to hire and retain good people,” he said.

“They are asking: ‘Do I feel welcome?’ That’s more the problem today.”

According to official figures published on Thursday, EU net migration to the UK is estimated to have dropped by 43 per cent to 107,000 in the year following the Brexit vote.

Nicola White, head of migration statistics at the Office for National Statistics, said it was too early to say whether the decline represented a long-term trend.

“These changes suggest that Brexit is likely to be a factor in people’s decision to move to or from the UK – but decisions to migrate are complex and other factors are also going to be influencing the figures,” she said.

Fortnum & Mason also reported record sales and profit figures on Friday.

Sales rose by 14 per cent to £113m in the year to July, while profits were up by 23 per cent to £7.6m. Online sales grew by 17 per cent.

Despite consumers currently feeling the squeeze from rising inflation and stagnant wage growth, Mr Venters said that he anticipates a busy Christmas for the retailer.

“In times of uncertainty, customers turn to brands they trust and we have noticed an upsurge in the sales of traditional products recently,” he said.

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