The English football team might have flopped ignominiously out of Euro 2016, but at least there was one winning – and united – team at the FA’s headquarters last month, the Wholesaling Industry.
I’m talking about the FWD Conference at the National Football Centre in St George’s Park, of course. I hope all of you who were there, enjoyed the day and that you all returned home safely, and to those of you who couldn’t make it, I hope you enjoy the extensive coverage in this issue – and that you can make it next year.
Our theme was “Winning in Wholesale” and the event was an opportunity to get together with our supplier and service provider partners and others to get together and look at some of the barriers to our future growth – and, more importantly, discuss some solutions.
One of the biggest barriers to growth in any business sector is uncertainty, and I could not let my column pass without mentioning the EU referendum and its aftermath.
We are suddenly living in turbulent, historic times –the most significant for this nation and for Europe since the fall of the old Communist bloc, perhaps even since the War. Look across the political and economic landscape and it’s difficult to see anything but turmoil and uncertainty.
However you voted – and I know that wholesalers have a huge number of differing opinions across the board – what is most important now is that we work together and with a sense of unity.
No matter what you think of the decision of the voting public (which includes all of us of course), the electorate has spoken and we must work with the decision. Talk of second referendums, financial Armageddon and the like only create yet more uncertainty and we are in danger of talking ourselves into recession, or worse.
So, my plea is, let’s roll our sleeves up and get on with it. Keep calm and carry on, as the poster famously says.
I am by nature an optimist and a realist. Our industry faces some challenges in the coming months but challenges and even crises present opportunities – a weak and divided Government provides us with opportunities to revisit some recent legislation that has affected our businesses, for example.
To tackle the turmoil, we as an industry need to be fitter, leaner, faster and smarter – and we need to be all these things, together.
This is why I was so pleased to see, despite the uncertainties we all face, our industry so purposeful, so (cautiously) optimistic in facing the future at our Conference. One of the things that always heartens me about going to our annual gathering is the sense of unity I get.
It is amazing that hundreds of us – many of us fierce competitors with each other in our day jobs - can gather together in a room for a day and work together towards the benefit of us all (and enjoy a drink afterwards!).
At the SWA Conference, which took place a few weeks before the FWD’s, and at which I was guest, a visiting MSP remarked on just this; and I am immensely proud of the fact that we can put aside our differences and our rivalries in order to work for the common good and the future prosperity of our sector.
With the energy and creativity of our people, we will get through, and eventually prosper.
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