I did ask, and he specifically mentioned flicker as a concern, but other things he said led me to think other factors may be contributing to his resistance. Pink Tesco lights may have contributed, and I'm sure we've all experienced a bad, old-fashioned lighting design that would put anyone off fluorescents (my gym has a fitting in the gents that sounds like a drunk blacksmith hitting an anvil while it tries to strike the arc, and then sounds like a very angry, very loud bee!).
LEDs are a possibility (application is a weaving and craft workshop), but as you say, there is a relatively tight budget and it's not always easy to get a nice ambient element to schemes with LEDs.
Hence hoping to be able to enlighten him to the performance possible with modern systems!