“Manufacturing is alive and kicking”: Bradford President

Manufacturing is alive and kicking, says Chamber President

Bradford’s manufacturing sector is alive and kicking – that was the key message from the city’s Chamber of Commerce last night (Thursday 24 Nov).

Chamber President Nick Garthwaite, in a keynote address at the Chamber’s annual dinner, proclaimed the sector to be in a strong position to be able to help drive the city forward, adding that many local firms are “punching above their weight.” With that in mind, said the President, the city is to host its first Manufacturing Week in 2018 – a celebration of all things great and good about the sector, both present and future.

During the speech, the Chamber President had those in the room involved in manufacturing to stand, getting several to convey a short ‘elevator pitch’ on themselves and their businesses, as examples of the positive things happening in the sector. BASF, Keighley Laboratories and Mansfield Pollard were singled out for special mentions at an event attended by many key decision-makers in and beyond the city, including Council Leader Susan Hinchcliffe and some of the city’s MPs. Other notable firms still highly active in the sector, said the President, include Borg Warner, Carnaud Metalbox, Seabrook and Spooner Industries. Many others were highlighted by showing their logos on a large screen.

While other key policy areas, such as Brexit, devolution and Northern Powerhouse were all touched upon, the speech was very much a reminder of the importance of manufacturing to Bradford’s future, and that it is not a relic from the past. The President reminded the audience of former Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s 1967 speech about changing technologies, and called for a “new white heat of manufacturing digitisation”. This, he said, would help change young people’s perceptions of the manufacturing sector, and persuade them about the positive career options on offer.

The importance of education and skills was not forgotten about either: Nick, who runs Christeyns, an international chemicals and detergents manufacturer, announced that the Chamber’s two charities to be supported during his two-year term are both literacy support groups for the under-privileged – Beanstalk (formerly Reading Matters) and Canterbury Imagine.

The other keynote speaker was Mark Gallagher, a businessman with many years’ experience in motor car racing, especially Formula 1. After-dinner laughs were provided by comedian Funmbi Omotayo.

The event was sponsored by the Business Enterprise Fund, Christeyns, Ecology Building Society and Exa Networks.