Somerset’s wide range of businesses were highlighted last week when Somerset Chamber of Commerce hosted two high-profile business leaders – Shevaun Haviland, the Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce and Lord Mark Price, businessman, writer and former Government Minister of Trade.
The pair were special guests at the Chamber’s annual business leaders’ dinner which was held at The Castle at Taunton. The event was sponsored by Higos Insurance Services Ltd and attended by more than 40 directors and leaders from businesses across the county.
Lord Price, a former managing director of Waitrose and deputy chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, gave guests an insight into his business life and said satisfied customers were a company’s best advert, while happy and productive staff were what really mattered to a firm’s success.
Shevaun, who also has a background in business and Government, said the Chamber network’s focus was on economic growth and acknowledged the many pressures currently facing businesses, from increased raw material and shipping costs to labour shortages and rising energy bills.
She said the British Chambers of Commerce was in constant contact with the Government, lobbying on behalf of members: “There is no doubt we are facing significant economic issues.
“The challenges that lay ahead of us are building by the day. Two thirds of firms expect to raise their prices and inflation is the top concern. Interest rates are set to climb further in November and energy bills will now rocket again for many in April.
“This is unsustainable. Government must work with business to address three main issues, to show it recognises the challenges firms face.”
As well as attending the dinner, Shevaun spent two days in Somerset visiting key local businesses, including the Hinkley Point C site, near Bridgwater, the iAero Centre, a purpose-built design and innovation facility, in Yeovil and Leonardo Helicopters, in Yeovil.
Emma Rawlings, Chief Executive of Somerset Chamber of Commerce, said: “It was a real pleasure to have Shevaun with us and to show her just some of the incredible businesses we have in Somerset.
“It is important we work closely with our business community as it enables us to feed back to Shevaun and her team at the British Chambers of Commerce who, in turn, have a direct line into Government.”