Brexit could wreck Britain’s future as a manufacturing hub, forcing firms like Philips to rethink their UK operations, the company’s chief executive warned today.
Frans van Houten expressed concern at the lack of progress on a Brexit deal in comments reported by Reuters.
“As time passes and there is no solution I get increasingly worried that hereafter frictionless trade between the United Kingdom and European mainland could be at risk.
“Basically the UK as a manufacturing hub for the world would be at risk,” he said after the company’s worse-than-expected quarterly results.
Van Houten added that a no-deal or hard Brexit would hit production at Philips’ main UK exporting plant in Glemsford.
“We are looking at a customs union as a minimum [requirement],” for a negotiated Brexit, he said.
“If that were not to happen we would need to rethink our manufacturing footprint.”
Philips posted €4.3bn (£3.8bn) sales for its third quarter, four per cent higher than the same period a year ago, while earnings before interest and tax grew to €451m, from €299m last year.
Shares dropped by as much as eight per cent to €31.30, however, their lowest point since April as the company missed investors' expectations.