It’s show-time

We light it up, we won’t come down
And the sun can’t stop us now
Watching it come true, it’s taking over you
Oh, this is the greatest show

They say that the measure of true fellowship is how long it takes you to pick up as though no time has passed, no matter how long it is since you were last together.

That was very much evident last night and today at the NBG Conference in Newport. The last time that all the Partners and Suppliers were together for a formal Supplier Summit and Conference was Glasgow in 2019.

It doesn’t feel like three years ago. It feels like last year; then you realise, to your horror that you are three years older, three years greyer and, thanks to lockdown-fuelled weight gain, slightly wider.

Things have changed. There are faces that are the same, though many of them are standing in front of different stands, there are different faces, there are familiar faces missing. But, by and large, now that we have had the first ‘abroad’ conference, a bunch of award events and the return of the NMBS Diner Dance, we are back, properly back, to the business of being together, building brands together and building business together.

This is what this industry does so well; it’s relationships that are forged at events like this, and the BMF events, the NMBS Dinner Dance, the Fortis events, the H&B activity day, dare I say it, the BMJ Industry Awards, that will keep the businesses going through the times ahead.

Times that, by all accounts, are going to be a tad rocky. The mainstream media in this country is very good at talking things down, I know, and while some of the doom and gloom may be wide of the mark, there is a very real fear that things are not going to carry on in their post-Covid boom.

There are a lot of things that are going to influence this: the cost of living issues, domestic fuel   costs, tax rises, the continuing impact of Brexit finally kicking in. Then there’s the fact that shipping costs have fallen through the floor, which sounds handy, until you realise that there are tonnes of stock sitting out there that’s been bought in on ships that cost several hundred arms and legs. Do the holders of that stock stick to their pricing guns in order to recoup their costs, or write down those shipping costs in order to compete?

This morning, it’s been announced that the inflation rate has crept back up, to 11.1%, driven by the rising cost of food and fuel. The Autumn Statement from Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will be announced tomorrow may include cost of living payments and a rise in some benefits, but will also see cuts in public spending.

The news from Ukraine got better with the re-taking of Kherson, but then worse with Russian retaliation in the form of the heaviest wave of missile attacks since the start of the war in February.

Next year will be tricky; some areas will do well, some will struggle, we’re in that part of the economic cycle. So, if it is going to get a bit sticky, what better way to head into it than on the back of a wave of camaraderie and mutual business building. Business needs to be fun from time to time The NBG Conference, traditionally held at the end of November, grew out of the Prospero Christmas Party, always a wild affair. It’s always been able to go that little bit further and put a smile on the face of its Partners and Suppliers. Last night was no exception.

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About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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