Brexit vote bad for design recruitment – but good for exports, Dezeen finds

Brexit crisis: the UK's vote to leave the European Union has led to a sharp fall in architecture and design recruitment activity in the country but has led to a dramatic rise in product sales overseas, according to data from Dezeen Jobs and Dezeen Watch Store.

UK recruitment activity, measured by the number of adverts placed on our recruitment site, tailed off in the weeks leading up to the Brexit vote and declined dramatically immediately afterwards before stabilising over the past week, our figures show.

However the fall in the value of Sterling since the UK's surprise vote to leave the EU has led to record exports from our watch store.

The contrasting findings come from an analysis of Dezeen's sales figures over the past few weeks and highlight the downsides and potential upsides for creative businesses in the UK.

They suggest that the short-term outlook for firms reliant on the UK construction market may be tough, but could be rosier for businesses that export goods and services.

Make Architect's office in London
British architecture firm Make and Sheppard Robson revealed they have made job losses since the result of the EU referendum was announced, in response to project uncertainty

We would not normally publish such commercially sensitive information but have decided to do so in the hope of shedding some light on the implications of Brexit for creative businesses in the UK.

Our figures indicate that nervousness about the upcoming referendum dampened recruitment activity across the board throughout June, affecting UK architecture firms most of all.

But it also reduced hiring among design firms, retailers, galleries, communications companies and other businesses in the creative sector.

Activity then practically ground to a halt immediately after the vote, before recovering over the past week. However UK activity for July is still slightly down compared to the same period last year.

The downturn reflects anecdotal evidence of cancelled or delayed construction projects and loss of confidence. UK architecture firms Make and Sheppard Robson announced staff layoffs following the vote.

Growth in recruitment activity among EU firms also dipped over the period but to a much lesser degree, while non-European activity appears unaffected and continues to grow strongly.

However Dezeen Watch Store, which sells watches manufactured by boutique brands, has so far benefitted greatly from the fall in the value of the British pound, which has slipped around 10 per cent against the euro, the dollar and other international currencies.

The drop makes goods priced in pounds cheaper to overseas buyers, who have flocked to our store and generated record sales for the period.

The fall in the pound has generated an increase in sales for Dezeen Watch Store, including timpieces like AÃRK's Classic Neu

The biggest increases came from Canada, France and China, with sales up 400 per cent, 337 per cent and 320 per cent respectively since the vote compared to the same period last year.

Germany was not far behind with 297 per cent growth, while sales to the US, Japan, Netherlands and India were all more than double last year.

Sales to the UK fell by 18 per cent, reflecting the decline in consumer confidence since the vote.

"We didn't vote for Brexit but are determined to make a success of it as a business," said Dezeen founder and editor in chief Marcus Fairs. "The data suggests that we may have to focus more aggressively on overseas markets in order to maintain the business growth we've enjoyed over the last few years."

"It's early days but the attractiveness of goods priced in pounds to overseas customers is the silver lining of Brexit so far," he added. "However, since we source most of our watches from overseas, we will also be paying more to buy stock, so margins could fall."

Dezeen Watch Store sells products sourced from international brands, with most of our suppliers being based in the UK, the USA, the Far East and Australia.

Dezeen's other revenue streams, including display advertising and video production, so far seem unaffected.

Creative businesses in the UK are still trying to work out the longer-term implications of the vote.

Zaha Hadid Architects director Patrik Schumacher said leaving the European Union would give the UK "the chance to evolve a more open, immigration-friendly society and economy."

Former government adviser Rohan Silva called on designers to demand favourable new policies from government and "roll with the punches and make the best of it."

However creative business consultant Massimo Gray said Brexit could be "like a heart attack" for design firms.