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Referendum causing uncertainty, says Breedon chair

The independence referendum will be held this September. Picture: TSPL

The independence referendum will be held this September. Picture: TSPL

THE Scottish independence referendum is “undoubtedly causing some uncertainty” for investors, the head of a top UK-wide company has said.

Breedon Aggregates, which employs around 580 of its 1,000 staff in Scotland, reported strong performances in both England and Scotland in its annual results 2013.

But it said the independence referendum “could be delaying investment decisions”, and it is not seeing the same improvement in transport, energy and infrastructure in Scotland as in England because “government expenditure has not been increased”.

Executive chairman Peter Tom said its overall markets “at last showed encouraging signs of life in 2013”, and the outlook for 2014 “is more encouraging than for some time”.

“We have genuine reasons to be optimistic about the prospects for 2014 and 2015,” the company report said.

“The outlook in England appears to be somewhat better than in Scotland, particularly in the East and West Midlands where manufacturing investment is increasing, supported by local government investment and a buoyant housing market.

“In Scotland, there are several large projects on the horizon, including the Aberdeen relief road which is currently out for tender and should start towards the end of 2014.

“However, Government expenditure has not been increased and therefore we are not seeing the same improvement in transport, energy and infrastructure as in England.

“The independence referendum in September is undoubtedly causing some uncertainty and could be delaying investment decisions.”

Breedon, based in Monifieth, Angus, completed its two largest acquisitions to date at Marshalls’ quarries in England and Aggregate Industries’ operations in northern Scotland at a total cost of £54 million.

Meanwhile, Moodiesburn-based sausage manufacturer Devro, which employs around 500 people in Scotland, said the outlook for its UK market is “less clear” than its other emerging markets, citing the strength of sterling and record pork prices as particular challenges.

Last week, pro-UK businesses warned that the annual results season would see more warnings of “uncertainty” as the independence referendum approaches, but pro-independence businesses dismissed these concerns as “scaremongering” and “excuses”.

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