With Brexit a hot topic, Sam Wahid, managing director of Gift Republic, shares his views on how it is likely to impact on the business going forward.
What are your views on Brexit?
“I am relieved the Government achieved a Brexit deal but my primary concern is the impact on immigration. The majority of our industry is seasonal and I’m worried that there will be a shortfall in the number of temporary workers available for warehouse work in the build-up to Christmas.”
Was temporary seasonal staffing an issue in 2020?
“Gift Republic owns its own warehousing and although we took on more than 100 employees in the warehouse in 2020, we were still understaffed. Despite our best efforts to recruit, including working directly with the local job centre and community, we were left with many vacant positions. With immigration now restricted, I foresee considerable issues for all industries relying on seasonal workers, many of whom are from overseas. Our contingency planning has already started.”
Putting Brexit to one side for a moment, and looking ahead to the coming season, what are your strongest trends in terms of new product?
“Our biggest trends in the upcoming season definitely tie in to the ‘summery, back to nature’ trend – I think we all can’t wait to get back outdoors again and have a normal summertime! We’re really excited about our 100 Ways to Help Your Community product, as this past year has definitely brought communities together and it explores great ways for us to continue this into the spring and summer.”
“Also lot of the products we’re bringing out are pet related. Our How To Speak Dog and How To Speak Cat guides, as well as our Dog and Cat IQ Tests, will bring people back to the nature within their homes, and our Dog-saster and Nine Lives games will be perfect for people spending time in the sun with friends.”
What are your views on post-lockdown and the rest of the year?
“I feel cautiously optimistic about 2021. Despite the huge challenges of Covid, 2020 was a good year for us. My concern is that the economy is currently being propped-up by government subsidies and the furlough scheme, and we are unsure what the impact will be once these measures are removed.
“However, it was encouraging that consumers turned to gift products and homewares last year to bring much-needed cheer and I hope we see this trend continue in 2021.”
Top: Sam Wahid, managing director of Gift Republic.