As a small business owner, I look around and see big people.
There are our big multinational competitors, and our big supermarket customers, and then, biggest of all, there’s the big British government - which can give us all the confidence, or not, to invest for the long term and our consumers the confidence, or not, to spend their hard-earned cash, today.
All feature in this week’s edition: Coca-Cola has used its muscle to help Innocent, Morrisons is basking in virtuous virtual glory while the Chancellor laid out his Autumn Statement.
Actually, I was heartened by George Osborne’s creativity in his National Loan Guarantee Scheme for small businesses, and in the delays in fuel duty rises that can add such disproportionate overheads to smaller suppliers. But it made me wonder what more big government could do to help more small British suppliers become great big British suppliers.
Well, it could keep its momentum by following through on other recent plans: like setting out the detail behind the EU Late Payment Directive, which should protect smaller suppliers across all industries; by enacting the Consumer Bill of Rights to protect consumers against less ethical suppliers and retailers; and it could realise there’s miles to go before the self-regulatory GSCOP can be truly effective.
And then, if it really got started, the government could establish Enterprise Zone-like incentives that encourage new grocery suppliers to set up where existing clusters of food expertise, skills, training and employment in grocery already dominate local economies; and establish a new Consumer Excellence tax relief that would encourage new suppliers to best utilise their trademarks and build sustainable British brands.
But if big Santa Cameron and his elves don’t deliver such Christmas cheer, my festive list really only has one wish. In the week when the US Congress failed to take the opportunity to reclassify pizza as no longer being a vegetable, I just want a government that actually has the Ed Balls to have a co-ordinated obesity strategy for which it can take responsibility. Please.
Paul Lindley, founder of Ella’s Kitchen and guest editor of The Grocer