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In a flash we have reached the midway point in the year, so it is a timely opportunity for me to reflect on the many stakeholder meetings I have been present at over the past 6 weeks. It has been busier than usual with meetings in Parliament, Genesis Breakfast meetings, International Trade briefings and more. This work, together with the ongoing and crucial mentoring meetings I have been having with our members, has inspired this month’s Thoughts of a CEO, in which I want to share some of the SME insights I have been gathering.


There can be no question that times are incredibly challenging for our members with a significant number reporting that turnover was lower in May compared with the previous month. This seems to tally with the ONS June statement, which reported this week that only 1 in 5 business expect their turnover to increase in July, down from 21% of businesses that had these expectations in June.


A big factor for our members, and the SME community, is increase in the cost of goods and services, which was high up on the agenda in the recent breakfast meeting with MPs as part of the Genesis organisation. When looking ahead to July 2023, 17% of trading businesses expect to raise the prices of goods or services they sell, stable compared with expectations reported for June 2023; more than a quarter (27%) of these businesses reported energy prices as a reason for considering these increases.


Does this sound familiar? Interestingly, there remains a picture of steady growth in our industry, despite these undeniable challenges. Though there have been some big casualties in our industry in recent weeks, the number of small businesses in the UK is growing, and we have seen a big surge in membership and Gift of the Year entries from new businesses, launching products for the first time. A recent report by Money Donut stated that, “Growth in the number of medium and large businesses in the UK has yet to return to the highest levels seen in 2020. However, the number of micro-businesses (with 0-9 employees) and small firms (with 10-49 employees) in the UK grew to 1.4 million in 2022, up 31,000 on the previous year.”

So, what is the point of this? You are running your own businesses in the coalface of these challenges, so can measure how your own business is performing. Yet context is key. I challenged the parliamentary meeting last week to tell me what the government was doing to balance the rhetoric from with Whitehall. For consumers are being pulled back from spend by the continuous negativity of financial downfall and political instability. There must be balance, and this is my message to you today.

What have we always done through challenge? Collaborated, adapted, created, and survived. This is where the mentoring sessions and Sharing Lunches have really come in to their own this year for us as your trade association. We may not have all the answers, but I can guarantee that I can point you towards someone who will. Our network of experts is bigger than it has ever been. So, I urge you to reach out and speak to us. Whether you are struggling recruit because of the chronic skills shortage, need to find new logistics partners, or are struggling with exporting, then call us. Whatever the question is about running your giftware business, we can help. My message is revel in balance. Times are hard but mobilise your energy to shift the narrative, find solutions and keep going. With our help, of course…








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