December/January 2019

A well-organised round table in a brewery!

Salford’s Seven Bro7hers’ Brewery was the unlikely, if not fascinating venue for an FSB roundtable event in November, which saw the organisation’s National Chair, Mike Cherry, offer his insight on the UK business scene.

FSB Members

FSB members from across the North West attended the November 13 event to pick Mike’s brains on all subjects business related. His stop in Greater Manchester was part of a tour of the UK regions to engage with members and hear the views of business relating to the recent autumn Budget, concerns around the impending Brexit in March, and various other issues affecting SMEs, from education and skills to digital infrastructure.

The Seven Bro7hers’ event kicked off with a mini-tour of the Salford based micro-brewery premises on Daniel Adamson Road, with founder, Keith McAvoy on hand to give a potted history of the company and how it came to be – and a brief rundown on the brewing process. With the roundtable then underway, the first subject up for discussion – perhaps unsurprisingly – was Brexit. Mike said: “We’ve always argued small businesses need the security of a transition period, allowing them to carry on operating as they do now from the 29 March 2019 until at least the end of 2020.

“This would bring with it at least some certainty for small businesses and will hopefully lead to some firms pushing the go button on investment decisions that have been on pause as they waited for a better understanding of the medium term trading landscape post-Brexit day.”

Also discussed was exporting – this too, however, touched on Brexit. Said Mike: “The success of the UK economy rests on helping more small firms to translate their ambitions into reality and start exporting, as well as increasing the potential of existing exporters. We welcomed the Government’s Export Strategy, which commits to increase exports as a proportion of GDP from 30% to 35%, as long as smaller businesses are front and centre of concrete new interventions that recognise the link between exporting, innovation and enhanced productivity.

“Incentives like export vouchers and grants should now be made available to small businesses to help them with upfront investment costs, for things like translation services or additional market research. An assessment of financial incentives, including export vouchers, as mentioned in the strategy, is a step in the right direction, but we are fast running out of time. If the Government doesn’t act quickly and introduce financial incentives, there is a risk the current uncertainty will have a serious and detrimental impact on the growth of small businesses.”

After the roundtable concluded, Mike said: “It was great to get to Manchester and meet members from across the North West. What was clear from our discussions is that so many businesses are all facing the same issues and problems, whatever their size or sector. That’s why FSB exists, we’ll make sure that we communicate those issues to the very heart of Government.”

Roundtable attendee, FSB member Mark Blackhurst, who runs Sharp Project based Digital Next, said: “It was a fascinating event, and really useful to get the viewpoint of someone like Mike Cherry who is clearly engaged with government at a very senior level. As a business owner it was particularly interesting to hear his thoughts on where Brexit was heading, especially with what’s happened since.”