Proud to be British

This month I met with 120 other managing directors from around the world at the annual Addtech strategy summit in Sweden. To break the ice, we split into groups where each person was of a different nationality and had to name three famous people from our country. Many of my Nordic colleagues referenced cross country skiers and ice hockey players – big sports for them – and the name of the Swedish prime minister didn’t ring a bell at all. But while I was struggling to keep up, I was amazed by my group’s wide knowledge of British culture and history.

Whenever I travel, I am regularly told how great it must be to live so close to London and to be able to watch Premier League football matches, West End Shows and top live music events in person. The British brand is strong and is well-respected around the world but sometimes I feel that we do not make the most of this reputation. London remains a global centre for finance and creativity but to boost the economy of the entire country we need to exploit our potential in engineering and manufacturing too. We have a long history of innovation in this country thanks to names like Stephenson, Graham-Bell and Faraday – we shouldn’t waste this legacy.

At FB Chain we have received some good support from UKTI in the last few years and I would urge all British companies to find out about the department’s Passport to Export and Gateway to Global Growth programmes. But maybe it’s time for more direct action along the lines of China’s export tax rebate policy or something similar to the R&D corporation tax relief to help UK manufacturing companies boost exports. What about a repeat of The Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace in 1851 to remind the world of our expertise?

Personally, I’m about to go and buy a pinstriped suit complete with bowler hat and umbrella to remind all the companies I visit abroad that I am proud to be British and of the engineering giants on whose shoulders FB Chain now stands.

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