Currency Confusion Delivers Only Uncertainty, Says Courier Boss

by Scott Douglas

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Jerry Stewart, boss of Scotland's biggest independent courier companyJerry Stewart is a Director of Eagle Couriers, Scotland’s biggest independent courier company, with a 100-strong fleet and bases in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Bathgate.

He was asked by one of the country’s biggest newspapers – the Daily Record – to write an article on behalf of SMEs about currency uncertainty for a post referendum Scotland.

Anyone running a business keeps an eye on the pronouncements coming from the Chancellor, because even small tweaks to the economy can have a profound effect on the bottom line.

We listen to every hint about possible rises in road tax or fuel duty. Even a penny per litre increase in fuel costs would have far reaching consequences for us.

Whatever sector you operate in, there are budgetary cogs and levers which impact on your business. Some years a budget statement will pass you by, other years it will bring some pain.

But if George Osborne categorically states there will be no “pound zone” between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK, all business people will sit up, because currency confusion affects everything and everybody.

Colourful Scottish Banks notes of various denominationsNo business is immune to the effects that would be involved in changing currency – yet nobody can effectively forward plan at the moment, because we simply don’t have any idea what will happen.

We try to look at this with a practical business head on.  If there is a Yes vote in September, then we’ll be waking up to a new chapter in Scotland’s history.

From a business point of view it would be reassuring in that situation if the pound in the pocket remained the same. It would be comforting at a time of great change to know that banking, payroll, credit and the lubrication that lets business run would be broadly unaffected.

Yet it would seem strange to go through the process of separation, only to leave control of our currency with the central bank of a foreign country. In a pound zone, an independent Scotland would have its own tax and spend powers, but what would happen if the Bank of England devalued the pound or ratcheted up interest rates?

Scottish manufacturers and exporters would be deeply affected by such decisions taken in England – and that would trickle out across the rest of the Scottish economy.

Even if the rest of UK refuses to play ball, an independent Scotland could still use the pound, but then we’d have even less influence.

If we established a separate Scottish pound, what kind of additional banking fees and charges would be incurred trying to process and convert payments and transactions from the rest of the UK and beyond.

Prices of goods and service between Scotland and the UK could fluctuate daily according to changing exchange rates. That could be very unsettling in many business areas.

Yet what are the alternatives? After financial woes across the continent, the Euro’s unlikely to be a popular option.  It would also come with upheaval for Scottish businesses, who’d have to change everything from websites and stationery to sales and marketing materials.

But at least there is some precedent, companies like M&S often display prices in both Euros and Sterling, while banks are set up to process Euro payments with the minimum of fuss.

Yes, the Eurozone countries proved proud historic currencies like the Franc, the Mark and the Lira could  be replaced, but that was years in the planning and carefully phased in.

The biggest problem with the independence debate is that the referendum is just months away, yet nobody knows what kind of money we’ll have in our pockets after a Yes vote.

Boss of scotland's biggest independent courier companyEagle Couriers has 20 members of operational staff across Scotland and a 100-strong team of couriers. It has just celebrated its 25th anniversary in Glasgow.

The company provides safe and quick logistics services to organisations across the private, public and third sectors as well as working directly with consumers.  

It has a 3500-strong client base including the BBC, the Government Procurement Service and the NHS.  Further information on Eagle Couriers can be found at www.eaglecouriers.co.uk  or on 0845 123 1230.

Holyrood Partnership provide media relations and PR support to Eagle Couriers to ensure the firm enjoys a positive public profile. Could your business benefit from our help telling your stories to a new audience – we’d love to hear from you and explain how we can help.

Scott Douglas, of public relations agency Holyrood PR in Scotland

Scott Douglas

Scott Douglas is the co-founder of the multi award-winning Holyrood Partnership, renowned public relations agency in Edinburgh, Scotland.
As well as providing expert PR services in Scotland and the UK, the former journalist heads a team which offers a host of other professional media services.
Those include crisis management PR, photography for business PR, affordable business video, social media campaigns and strategic content planning and delivery for businesses of all sizes.

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