Well, summer is definitely over - and it’s not just the leaves falling from the trees or the return of the migratory Chris Packham & co to our TV screens that gives the game away.

After the increasingly dead season that August seems to be (is it just me who thinks we are edging ever closer to adopting a Continental-style six-week shutdown?), we are now full swing into a hectic round of trade shows and conferences - four for us in the past six weeks, with another six coming up over the next four!

While there is always something interesting to pick up and it’s always good to network, when you are in the middle of a round of events like this you do start to feel a bit like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. After you’ve been doing this for over 25 years, you start to see the same sorts of themes recurring, with the same groups of people turning up to listen and take part every year.

By and large, that’s people like me - people who care about the sectors they work in and want to develop their businesses and keep abreast of the latest developments. There is a large element of preaching to the converted - the businesses and individuals who are already doing the right things, but are still looking to do more and to do it even better next time round.

It’s just a pity we don’t see a few more new faces now and again. Especially as you just know the characters who complain loudest about ‘the state of things’ are generally the ones absent from the events, while the rest of us are looking for the solutions!

Halfway through our round of events, what are the themes emerging so far? No surprise, my old friend ‘social media’ is a hot topic and every event has had its very own social networking guru on the podium at some point.

The importance of attracting, keeping and developing good quality people was, of course, music to my ears - and a point emphasised by the excellent Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC, at the recent HTA conference, where he described it as “a key indicator for a successful and sustainable business”.

The other good news to emerge from the same conference was that, despite the efforts of Mr R Peston & co, the recession is over. It’s official - the economy has been growing each month for nearly two years. It’s just that it’s not growing like it used to - and that means we are all going to have to work harder to keep things on track.

So the current, up-to-the-minute message seems to be: always employ good people, don’t forget to keep up-to-date with your marketing and - just in case you hadn’t noticed - it’s tough out there. Groundhog Day to some, maybe, but for us fmcg wrinklies it all sounds like business as usual.