THE owner of Gleneagles has revealed he is anxious about the prospect of losing access to European Union labour, as Brexit negotiations get off to a fractious start.

Sharan Pasricha, chief executive of Ennismore, speaking at the Entrepreneurial Scotland Summit 2017, held at the luxury Perthshire resort, also said he had been approached about taking the Gleneagles brand to other locations, but had no plans to do so.

Asked about the prospect of losing EU workers, he said: “We’re anxious, but we’re not going to be fretting until clear policies have been drawn out,” he said. “We’ve got faith in the Government knowing full well the importance of the EU workforce to our industry.”

He said while it was too early to speculate on what would happen, “clearly tourism and the hotel industry is hugely important and is a large employer in Scotland, and a large chunk of employees are EU nationals”.

Mr Pasricha estimated about half of the resort’s 900 staff were EU nationals.

Ennismore has rolled out its Hoxton brand from its original Shoreditch location to cities including Amsterdam, New York and Paris. There are plans for further expansion, and it also aims to reimagine budget hotels with its NoCo concept.

Following an engaging presentation Mr Pasricha revealed he has looked at opening hotels in Glasgow and Edinburgh, through Hoxton and NoCo, but had not yet found suitable buildings to acquire.

Given the international roll-out of the Hoxton brand, Mr Pasricha said he had been asked about rolling out a Gleneagles brand, adding there was an argument for and against that possibility.

“Sitting where I am now, there will only be one Gleneagles,” he said. “People ask, you’ve bashed out so many Hoxtons, surely there is an ambition to do same with Gleneagles and my initial gut reaction is that there is not.”

The conference, which this year ran with a theme of scaling up, also heard from Spark Energy chief executive Chris Gauld.

Speaking after the conference, Mr Gauld said “great care” must be taken by government if it attempts to regulate pricing in the energy industry.

The Conservatives will include a cap on energy bills in its manifesto, and Mr Gauld said: “We need solutions which offer the best outcomes for consumers... So I’d like to see great care taken, a commitment to a competitive market. I’m concerned that a price cap cannot work in a competitive market and maintain the rate of competition coming into the market.”

Since completing a management buyout in June, Mr Gauld said the company was in the market to expand through acquisition as well as organically, now that it had access to capital investment.

“The difference [since the MBO] is that I know capital is available if an opportunity comes up. I can maintain the momentum by investing in the right thing. It’s hugely competitive and to keep ahead, we have to keep up with technology and digital transformation to make the customer experience better.

“If there is an opportunity to build or buy a product or service that adds value then that is part of our strategy,” he said.

Among the stellar line-up was Jess Butcher, the founder of augmented reality business, Blippar – who said the company wouldn’t reach its ambition until its name became a verb; Mark Hogarth, creative director at Harris Tweed – Hebrides; the next Scotland rugby coach Gregor Townsend, and renowned entrepreneur, Sherry Coutu, who said Scotland’s geography and population made it the perfect breeding ground for entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurial Scotland’s Sandy Kennedy and Chris van der Kuyl also addressed delegates.

Coinciding with the conference was the launch of the Scale-up Scotland Leadership Programme. The initiative, which is open for applications, will take on an initial tranche of 20 businesses.