In a sunny street in the center of the German city of Leipzig, the British flag flies on a small walkway in a shop called “Der England”.
Store owner Dr. Sonia Fingergarten sells many British goods from the marmite pickle jar to the Mars chocolate bars of the city’s large British community.
“They ask us if the store is going to continue to work. They all believed that staying in the union would win,” says England-loving Fingergarten.
Foreign investment is vital to the transformation of this city, which was once part of the former German Democratic Republic and is often referred to as “the prosperous city of eastern Germany.”
In recent years, giant companies such as Amazon and Porsche have established branches in Leipzig and have occupied many abandoned and old warehouses.
They were followed by highly skilled workers from across Europe including Philip Rock, the British CEO of Spreadshirt, a thriving e-commerce company founded in the city that has opened offices and production facilities in Poland and the Czech Republic as well as the United States.
“I am somehow destructive,” he says, trying to clearly control deep feelings.
“We have 22 nationalities working in our office here – it is a very multicultural world and I feel that my country has isolated itself from it and will lose all these values.”
The European Open Frontier is vital to Spreadshirts, which last year carried out 3.6 million shipping orders that included shirts, mugs, and coats with hoods for more than 180 countries.
Spreadshirt was forced to provide fewer services to smaller countries outside the European Union economic bloc.
“Since there are no open borders with Norway and Switzerland, it becomes very difficult, and ends up with poor service and thus fewer sales,” says Rock.
He warned that the same situation might soon apply to Britain.
He added: “This type of global selling climate will not be available without open borders, and things will get complicated if we end up without open borders or the pattern of the Norwegian system and therefore our work will be less in Britain.”
Rock, who is from the British county of Wiltshire, has spent many years building e-commerce companies in Britain, and he fears for the future of this sector.
He continued: “I know a lot of people in the field of e-commerce who are not thinking now in Britain because they prefer to invest in Europe where it is possible to reach a larger audience in a much easier way and this is painful.”
Can you return to Britain?
After a deep reflection, he replied: “It is unlikely.”
“People did not give up.”
Jess Rag, a Briton living in Leipzig, is slightly more optimistic. He says Britons living in Germany have been affected by the vote, but he hopes the two countries will find a way to maintain freedom of movement.
Rag said his customers and 60 percent of them in Britain “refused the conversation” the morning of the exit vote from the European Union, but on Tuesday “business returned to normal.”
He says: “People have not abandoned Europe as a whole.”
The impact of the Brexit is not limited to business only to the British and their clients.
Birgit Stodkow, the international director of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the southern region of neighboring Anhalt Saxony – which represents more than 57,000 small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) – says local companies are “all troubled” by the vote.
Last year, SMEs sold to Britain 1.2 billion euros (986 million pounds) of products, including petrochemicals, drugs, food and minerals.
She added: “Britain is ranked second for us in terms of exports, and in the last five years we have doubled our exports to it.”
She added: “Now everything will become very difficult, especially bureaucracy and administrative burdens, just as business here requires the coming of the British to the region that needs specialists in all areas of the economy.”
Unbelieving and Shocking
There are strong indications that skilled British workers may continue to work in the country’s commercial centers.
There is information vocal about how the British can guarantee their future in Germany, says Carrie King, who works for the recruitment firm Jobspotting in Berlin.
And she says that what I wrote in a blog about British options abroad received high reading rates on Friday, nearly enough to cause the company’s servers to collapse.
“The prevailing mood between disbelief and shock and people is hanging – they are disappointed and wondering what will happen in the coming months,” she added.
In Leipzig, Dr. Fingergarten hopes that the British will find a solution for her English goods store. “I hope there will be an exit, otherwise we will turn it into a Scottish or an Irish store,” she says.