Businesses need to ‘up their game’ to compete globally, former Trade Minister claims

Former trade minister Lord Price, who quit his government role ten days ago, has said UK businesses need to up their game to compete on a global footing in light of Brexit, while also addressing the longer term implications of where the UK should be heading.

Lord Price CVO in conversation with journalist Alex Forrest at the WSTA conference this week

Speaking to journalist Alex Forrest at the WSTA conference yesterday, Price, who headed up Waitrose and the John Lewis Partnership prior to his appointment as Minister of State for Trade in 2015, argued that the UK needs a longer term view of where the it is heading and not “obsess” about the minutiae.

He argued that Brexit was a “symptom” rather than a cure, pointing to people’s desire for answers to solve problems with the current economic system and the impact of the digital age on people’s lives.

“Although it is the biggest task this country has faced since the Second World War, for me it is not the biggest issue, it is a symptom of something else. People voted the way they did because they wanted to see change,” he said.

There are, he said, two ideologies that were fighting at the moment, but both were missing “the bigger picture” and getting bogged down in minutiae.

“We are missing the bigger picture of where do we want our country to be in five, 10 or 25 years’ time. How do we cope with the fact that there is real discontent over how the economic model works? How do we cope with the fact that the digital age is upon us which will create massive changes for society – the BRC is saying that 900,000 jobs will be lost in the next four years – how do we retrain and make it all the best it can be and take the opportunity of global free trade but also help British workers as they go through these changes?” he said.

He pointed out that industry in the UK was not fully prepared for the digital age, and urged business to think how they could “up their game” in terms of productivity to ensure that they could compete on a global footing in a post-Brexit world, as well as thinking about these fundamental questions.

“Have we got the right productivity levels in the UK to be globally competitive? The answer is no, so what are we going to do about it?” he asked the conference.

“Business will have look past [Brexit] to prepare for a world where Britain will be more open, with more free trade, and more competitive globally. There is a big upside for consumers to that, but business will have to think about how it ups its game to looks at productivity. The good thing is that it will have a few years to think about how and where it needs to invest in the right thing. But my sense is that is the flow and where we’re heading.”

He argued that the importance lay in a considered balance to grasp the opportunities and build the UK into a truly competitive business model in the world and to make sure it has the best support to do that.

He added that saying ‘Brexit is Brexit’ wasn’t trite, “we need to solve the fundamental problems, these are the things that need addressing,” he said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Please note that comments are subject to our posting guidelines in accordance with the Defamation Act 2013. Posts containing swear words, discrimination, offensive language and libellous or defamatory comments will not be approved.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Sales Manager

James Eadie Ltd
London, UK

Wine Ambassador Role

Ramón Bilbao UK
London, UK

Fine Wine Logistics Coordinator

IG Wines
London, UK

Sales Manager

Top Selection
London, UK

Assistant Retail Manager

The Whisky Exchange
London, UK

Marketing Manager

Ellis Wines
Hanworth, Middx, GB

Commercial Analyst

ATOM Group
Tunbridge Wells, UK

Customer Service Executive

Marussia Beverages
Marylebone, London, UK

HR Administrator

Amathus Drinks PLC
London, UK

Trade Marketing Manager

Australian Vintage Limited
Croydon, UK

The World Bulk Wine Exhibition

20th Nov 2017

The Global Spirits Masters Lunch

London,United Kingdom
1st Dec 2017

International Bulk Wine and Spirits Show

London,United Kingdom
26th Feb 2018
Click to view more

Champagne Masters 2017

The only Champagne blind tasting in the UK, the competition will reward the best wines in the following categories:

The Global Rosé Masters 2017

With wines from the palest of pink to almost ruby red, bone dry to almost cloyingly sweet, reductively handled to barrel-aged, as well as gently spritzy to fully sparkling.

Click to view more