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      2022 Predictions

      Kenton Robbins' views on the business climate ahead for the New Year.

      We all worked tirelessly through 2021, focussing on the belief that 2022 would hail a return to the good times we remember. COVID-19 would be a thing of the past and the New Year would be an opportunity for us all to get back to normal. Yet, as I write we are heading into a ‘soft lockdown’ with a return to working from home being advised by the Government and mask-wearing once again as fundamental as coffee and tea!

      2022 is going to be the hardest year yet of this pandemic for business. We are staring down the barrel of inflation and supply chain shortages, the like of which we haven’t seen for many years.

      Energy prices will continue to be the lead item on boardroom agendas through 2022 as we face the greatest increase in wholesale marketing pricing in a generation. Those that have not hedged or have the ability to do so will face profitability challenges based on energy increases alone. Businesses based on a sourcing model of importing cheap goods from across the globe will see their margins eroded like the cliff sides of the East Coast unless they drive significant price increases to their customer base to offset their increased costs.

      The availability of everyday items we have all taken for granted throughout our lifetimes will soon be something of a fond memory. You only need to walk the aisles of a B&Q store looking for the Far East sourced electrical sockets to see an issue that historically would have had the buying dept in a tailspin! (Incidentally, if any readers have a three-way switched Georgian brass effect socket going spare, I’ll pay good money, no questions asked!).

      We have spent months focussed on the Northern levelling up debate only to miss the much more significant global levelling up issues right under our noses. As much as I am an advocate for a balance between the North and South, it should not distract us from the bigger picture which could be the driver for a year of positive change for UK plc.

      This coming year will see a huge opportunity for British businesses to fill the gaps which historically have been filled through so-called ‘value’ global sourcing policies, aka ‘cheap’ products. We have to educate the British consumer as to the benefits of buying British and to look beyond buying solely on price – quality and price equals value. British manufacturers are world-leading innovators and produce quality products here in the UK, supporting domestic jobs, as well as the environment.

      I predict that 2022 will be the year that sees capitalisation of the UK manufacturing sector which will step up to the mark and establish itself in the mind of the domestic consumer as the value driver of the UK economy. 2022 should be the year we all make a choice to invest in ourselves, our country, our products and our planet’s future sustainability by buying the things we make well on our own doorsteps. After all, charity starts at home and if there was ever a year that we should look to support ourselves, it is 2022.

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