Business Leader Blog Posts, EU Referendum Series – Sir Peter Rigby, Rigby Group PLC, Chairman & Chief Executive

Rigby Group PLC

As part of the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce’s EU referendum activity we’ve challenged a selection of business, academic and political leaders to share their views on Brexit or remain and key aspects of the debate so far. All views expresses are those of the authors, not the GBCC:

Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce

Business Leader Blog Posts, EU Referendum Series – Sir Peter Rigby, Rigby Group PLC, Chairman & Chief Executive

I have a very clear view that it is in the best interest of business to remain in Europe and that it is in the best interest of the country to have strong, successful international businesses. We all benefit from the success of business and it underwrites so much of what we value in our society in terms of funding and investing in education, health, social services, defence and infrastructure, through the generation of corporate and personal taxes.

Let me illustrate some of the effects that a Brexit would have on a business such as that which I have built and run and developed today.

Rigby Group Plc is a privately owned group of companies consolidated under 6 distinct and diverse areas of business.  It has been established for 40 years, employs 7,500 people in 20 countries and has a turnover in excess of £2 billion pounds per annum.  Our businesses are consolidated under Information Technology, Aviation, Airports, Luxury Hotels, Real Estate, and Financial Services & Investments.

More than 50% of its revenues are earned outside of the UK and largely in Continental Europe.  In France for example we are the third largest British owned enterprise behind organisations such as HSBC and BP, and are the market leader in our sector and trade on equal terms with our French and other foreign competitors in this territory.  Some 45% of our revenues are derived from government customers including the National Government, numerous Departments and Local Government agencies – a real endorsement of the integration of our business into a European territory. 

Our primary business is Information Technology where the territories we trade in are highly developed nations with high expectations of partnering with established, professional, international organisations such as ours.  It is important that we continue to work in a business environment where we are on equal terms with our partners, competitors and customers, and that we are not disadvantaged by the UK’s possible future exit from the EU.  Indeed it is my opinion that if we were to leave that our business would be massively disadvantaged and under severe attack and pressure from our market and competitors. 

Other companies in our group which might be affected include our aviation interests in the form of the airport and management operations company, Regional & City Airports, which now owns or manages six UK airports, and of the flying component of our aviation interests British International Helicopters and Capital Air Ambulance both of which operate European and indeed world-wide services.  Both operate under the undoubted benefits that European liberalisation of air services have provided to UK consumers.

My view is that whilst there is a very clear argument for staying in Europe, as I have tried to explain, all is not perfect and many of the negative comments about Europe are directed at its management and bureaucratic legislation.  I agree with some of these and have practical experience through operating in Europe for many years.

Nothing is perfect, however there are many benefits and I find it difficult to see any real arguments to leave and the total absence of real understanding and planning of the numerous negative issues which will need to be managed better if perceived benefits from leaving the EU can be realised.  By the time they are the world will have moved on and we will have lost the benefit of building on the success we have had to date with closer European alignment on business related matters.


About Sir Rigby:

Sir Peter Rigby is a serial entrepreneur who for the past four decades has been one of the UK’s most respected and successful business leaders. He is currently the founder/Chairman/Chief Executive of Rigby Group (RG) Plc, which is the parent company for a portfolio of family-owned and highly successful businesses operating across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.  Sir Peter started the founding company in 1975 and today it is one of the biggest privately owned businesses in the UK with a turnover of £1.8bn.


About The GBCC’s EU Referendum Series:

According to a recent British Chambers of Commerce survey of West Midlands members, if the referendum were held tomorrow: 45% of members would vote for Britain to stay in the EU and 45% would vote for Britain to leave the EU. As a result, the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce will not be campaigning for either Remain or Leave, given the very real divisions that exist in the local business community.


In the months leading up to the referendum, we are actively surveying business opinion and inform the debate without fear or favour. Additionally, we will be demanding clear information and facts from both the Remain and Leave campaigns so that businesspeople can make an informed choice at the ballot box on the 23rd June.