In October 2015, we provided 90,000 that paid for a French recording studios new SSL desk. That was just the tip of the iceberg. In November we funded a total of 1.2 million worth of lighting kit in France via Harman Equipment Finance (which we operate). Last month 920,000 was provided to rental companies in France and Spain to pay for Martin Professional lights.
Germany is another key market for us. In 2015 we financed a SSL desk, provided 185,000 towards 4k camera kit and helped out one of the biggest event companies in Berlin to the tune of 250,000.
As you can see, the freedom to trade within Europe has been crucial for us.
With a foothold in Europe we also have a huge advantage over our competitors at home because we can offer the big customers cross-country deals. This has helped us to secure contracts that, had we been based solely in the UK, we would never have got.
But Im not just stating this opinion on Europe because it is self-serving (although clearly, being in the EU helps my company). I believe the TV industry benefits as a whole.
One example is BVE, which takes place next month at Excel in London.
Many years ago, when it was The Production Show and Video Forum, I am fairly sure it was a parochial UK exhibition (although I am happy to be proved wrong). Now BVE attracts 15,000 visitors from more than 60 countries, although admittedly not all from Europe.
Last year, in our various meetings and just wandering the stands, we saw for ourselves how it had become a European show.
In some cases we might speak different languages but, combined, we profit from our joint knowledge and expertise and from the access we gain to a wider choice of products and services. Leaving the EU, and the single market, could reduce this choice and increase regulation, trade barriers and the price of imports, even if we were to adopt a Free Trade Agreement with Europe.
In my opinion, that would be a disaster.
Now, I dont want you to think that simply being part of Europe is enough. We still have to work hard to do business successfully.
When we first opened an office in Germany we thought free trade and fancy premises would be enough to persuade local customers to use our services. We were wrong. Local knowledge is key.
We found that potential customers werent willing to talk to us Brits about finance: its a big taboo over there. If wed had a local finance expert on board from the start then we could have built relationships with clients straight away, rather than waste valuable time and money. We learnt our lesson, put it right and have since benefitted.
Now we even have our own dedicated German website. Weve also recently launched web pages in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and French. This has made a huge difference.
It might be taboo to discuss politics and money but, when it comes to Europe, this is one subject that I feel passionately about. I sincerely hope the UK remains part of the EU: for everyones sake.
Peter Savage is the chief executive of Azule Finance