Expert reveals NI’s wealth coming South due to Brexit, sterling fears

Increasing numbers from North buying gold and storing it in Dublin, says Merrion Vaults

Merrion Vaults founder Séamus Fahy: “They are saying that they worried about sterling’s weakness.” Photograph: The Irish Times

Merrion Vaults founder Séamus Fahy: “They are saying that they worried about sterling’s weakness.” Photograph: The Irish Times

 

Fears over sterling’s weakness and Brexit have prompted increasing numbers of people in Northern Ireland to buy gold and store it south of the Border, says one safety deposit specialist.

Séamus Fahy, founder of Merrion Vaults, says the UK’s EU exit – set to happen in March 2019 – is being felt across his business. The firm runs safe-deposit box centres in Dublin and several British cities,

Over the last nine months, Merrion Vaults has experienced a 200 per cent increase in new clients from Northern Ireland who are buying gold and opting to store it in the company’s Dublin facility.

“They are saying that they worried about sterling’s weakness. Significantly, a lot of them have interests abroad and their big fear is a plunge in sterling,” he says. “Gold gives them a good hedge against that.”

The British currency endured one of its worst runs against the euro and dollar last week on warnings that the UK looks increasingly likely to crash out of the EU without a deal. Such a hard Brexit would leave relationships with its biggest trading partners in chaos.

The euro ended the week at 89.58 pence against sterling. The UK pound tumbled to a 14-month low of $1.2662 on Wednesday before recovering to $1.273 by the weekend.

Fahy says Merrion Vaults’ expanding client base in the North recognises that the pound’s decline would damage their spending power in other jurisdictions. Consequently, they are seeking ways to ringfence their position against this possibility.

The company is considering opening in Belfast on the back of the interest shown and is looking for suitable premises, says the Merrrion Vaults co-founder.

Along with providing specialised storage for valuables, the company also sells gold bullion to clients.Its business in Britain is also expanding, partly due to concerns about Brexit’s impact. Last year Merrion Vaults opened in Liverpool’s historic Royal Liver Building and it also has premises in Glasgow and Newcastle.

“We are seeing clients in Liverpool, Newcastle and Glasgow Vaults opting to buy and store gold,” says Fahy.

Merrion Vaults was established in 2014 as the first independent safe deposit-box service in the Republic.