Photo: Pierre-Philippe Marcou Agence France-Presse
Even if the situation in Catalonia, put under trusteeship by the central government, has momentarily stabilized, the boss of a family group of wines and spirits has not renounced to set up a distribution company in parallel to Madrid.
Create a business parallel to Madrid, to print labels in Spanish, or move his or her seat : the small Catalan firms juggle with solutions to work around the boycott and the uncertainty that had accompanied the threat of the secession of their region.
Even if the situation in Catalonia, put under trusteeship by the central government, has momentarily stabilized, the boss of a family group of wines and spirits has not renounced to set up a distribution company in parallel to Madrid. “A decision that you take when you have no choice,” he says. The calls for a boycott of Catalan products continue to produce their effects and the sales of his company to the rest of Spain have shrunk by more than 30 % since the beginning of October, ” he says.
Distribute from Madrid will allow him to not scare off clients with an address in Catalan, while maintaining production in Catalonia. “Otherwise, we are no longer selling “, sums it up in his shop in barcelona aged man, who prefers to remain anonymous ” due to the conflict “.
For fear of the boycott or of the uncertainty that would result from a secession, with more than 2700 companies have shifted their headquarters out of the region and the list continues to grow, although the pace of departures has decreased. This decision is purely administrative, however, fear of moving in real term. Among the companies who have moved their headquarters, we find large groups representing 30% of the GDP catalan, including banks, but also a myriad of small and medium-sized enterprises.
In an upscale area of Barcelona, a small company of distribution of medicines has accelerated a transfer already planned from its headquarters to Seville, recognizes his affable boss, who refuses him, too, that his name be cited, given the sensitive nature of the topic. Its sales were down 10% to 20% this fall in the pharmacies of Andalusia, where the company conducts the majority of its turnover.
“The patients say : give me a product that is not catalan […] This has never happened before,” says the director, explaining also have wanted to avoid ending up outside the eu legal framework in the case of independence of Catalonia. “We would be bankrupt, because the drugs that we import are subject to customs duties “, he explains.
The majority of small businesses that have moved their headquarters, especially ” afraid of a boycott “, but “maintain factories, directorate and jobs” in Catalonia, nuance Enric Rius, tax professional who has assisted many companies in their steps. “If this affect me, I would, but for the moment my business does not feel,” explains Francisco Castillo, manager of a transport company in the Barcelona area. Nevertheless, ” everything stopped, nobody takes a decision, purchases of machines in this context “, he says.
While many of the smaller bosses, the catalans do not hide their sympathies for independence, the decisions to change the headquarters are far from being always well regarded. In the great city of Terrassa, 30 km north of Barcelona, Aleix Pons i Coll, spirit and bright white hair, has felt “anger and pain” at the announcement, in early October, with the departure of the two main banks in Catalan. The mutual Previsio, of which he is vice-president, worked closely with them, but is now considering a change of course.
“Even reluctantly, it may be that we decide not to work more with the [banks] are going, and focus on those that remain,” explains the head, which became favourable to the independence in 2010, when the partial annulment by the Spanish justice status, strengthening the autonomy of Catalonia. A decree facilitating the process of seat change, adopted in early October by the central government, also feeds the resentment, while Madrid incentive now for companies to come back in a Catalonia guardianship.
“It is clear to see that there has been political pressure. How can we tell them that they do not leave when it was all done for ! ” growls Mr. Pons i et Al. Rare are those who consider that the regional elections of December 21 will bring back the business. “The perception is that [the Catalan society] will continue to play laws, and that, it is dangerous for the business “, estimates the director of the pharmaceutical company.