LONDON – Former Chancellor George Osborne’s family business took a £855,000 hit from the collapse in value of the pound against the dollar and euro after last year’s Brexit vote.
Osborne & Little, which sells wallpaper and furnishings, incurred currency hedging losses of £855,000 in the year to March, “following the collapse of sterling after the Brexit Referendum,” accounts filed with Companies House show.
The pound fell to a 31-year low against the dollar in the wake of last June’s vote to leave the European Union. The referendum took place under the previous Conservative government in which Osborne was Chancellor, but he was a strong Remainer and has been a prominent critic of Brexit since leaving government.
Osborne & Little made pre-tax profits of only £73,000 on sales of £33.8 million last year. North America accounts for just over half of the company’s overall sales, meaning it is particularly vulnerable to a weak exchange rate. To minimise the risk, the company uses “forward contracts covering 40% and 70% of the forecast exchange exposures for up to two years ahead,” its accounts say.
The business is owned by George’s father, Sir Peter Osborne. The former Chancellor, now editor of the Evening Standard, is a shareholder.
Osborne & Little made £17,000 in profit after tax, compared to £353,000 in 2016. For the second year in a row, no dividends were paid to shareholders.
While the business was burned by exchange rates in 2016, the company said in its accounts that “there will be a material benefit in the current year” to March 2018 if exchange rates stay as they are, particularly the rate between sterling and the US dollar.