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Brexit Has Made Lush Staff Feel "Unwelcome" And "Upset"

Lush, famed for its bath bombs and soaps, said Brexit has made its European staff feel "unwelcome" and "understandably upset".

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Lush staff who do not have British citizenship have been left feeling "unwelcome and understandably upset" following the UK's decision to leave the European Union, the company has claimed.

The referendum result, it said, "sent shockwaves through the business" because 20% of its workforce in the UK and 35% of its staff at its 15 Dorset factories, which form the main manufacturing hub for Lush products around the world, do not have British citizenship.

Lush said that in the wake of the Brexit vote, 80 of its non-British employees have opted to relocate from Dorset, where workers of a variety of nationalities make cosmetics including bath bombs, shampoos, and face masks, to its German factory in Düsseldorf, which opened in 2016.

Lush told BuzzFeed News it employs 1,100 staff in Dorset. The figures suggest almost a fifth of its non-British factory staff have left the UK since Brexit.

Lush made the claim in its annual financial results for the year ended 30 June 2016, published on Monday.

It reported a 26% rise in sales to £723 million and also revealed it will pay all UK permanent staff the Living Wage Foundation's recommended hourly rate, which is £8.45 per hour outside of London and £9.75 within London, from April 2017. The company employs 4,500 in the UK in total and 19,500 globally.

Lush had, it said in the report, "flourished" from the freedom of movement of people and goods afforded by the UK being part of the EU, but now faced "uncertainty" with the potential for new trade agreements to "take years" to complete.

The company, which has 931 shops across 49 countries, said it would now review options for growth "outside the UK". However, it told BuzzFeed News that Dorset was and would continue to be its main manufacturing site.

"With little clarity on the government’s approach to the implementation of Brexit this remains a key uncertainty for the business going forward," it added.

The comments follow a similar warning by coffee chain Pret a Manger last week.

Pret's HR director told a committee of MPs that just 1 in 50 applicants for jobs were British, and said if she had to fill all jobs with British-only applicants, she would not be able to as a result.

She said the company employed 110 different nationalities, 65% of which were from the EU, which currently enjoys freedom of movement to the UK.

Sara Spary is a consumer business correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Sara Spary at sara.spary@buzzfeed.com.

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