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Chamber kicks off 120th anniversary celebrations in style

A major event in Warwickshire has marked the start of a landmark year for the region’s leading business membership organisation.

Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce held the BIG Business Celebration Lunch at the IXL Events Centre in Southam with well over 200 businesspeople and regional stakeholders in attendance.

The event marked the start of the 120th anniversary celebrations for the Chamber, which was established in 1903 and has supported businesses through world wars, depressions, recessions and the global pandemic.

Guests heard from Chamber chief executive Corin Crane followed by Atul Lakhani, of IXL Events Centre, and Richard Harrison of No Ordinary Hospitality Management, which works in collaboration with the IXL Events Centre.

The event was then treated to a performance by Imagineer Productions before an inspirational keynote speech by Baroness Lane Fox of Soho CBE, one of the founders of Lastminute and the president of the British Chambers of Commerce.

She said: “This Chamber has seen so much over its 120-year history and continues to support businesses in this amazing part of the country.

“I did not think for a second, when I started my business that the world would look like this in 2023. There have been so many changes and unexpected events.

“I believed that technology would lead to more women being empowered to start and lead businesses and I thought it would help us to be even more of a ‘Global Britain’ that would build greater relationships around the world and lead to more trade.

“Some of the promise of technology is still yet to be realised.

“We also know that there are mammoth challenges that businesses are facing including energy costs, inflation and the tightening labour market.

“I often get asked how the economy is doing and it’s not a straightforward answer as it can be different for each sector, for each geographical area and for the generation of the business.

“I am, however, an optimist and I do think there is an opportunity to improve things for the better – in some cases its taking the low hanging fruit and, in other ways, it is solving more complex problems.

“There are three areas where businesses have to be ready to adapt.

“Everything that can be digitised will be in the coming years so there is no point fighting it. Adopt it and use technology to make us the most robust, resilient economy we can be.

“Sustainability and net zero are hugely important and will continue to be very high on the agenda for the future.

“And, we must ensure we build diversity into the economy whether we are thinking about gender or ethnicity.

“If we can move on those areas quickly, we can grow the economy and we, as a Chamber network, must continue to listen you our members to make sure we know what is important to businesses.”

Corin added: “When you look back 120 years ago to the establishment of the Chamber there were issues around skills, infrastructure and global trade that business leaders came together to solve.

“And, more than a century on, we are facing new challenges but, fundamentally, they are similar issues that we are collectively working together to overcome.

“As a Chamber, we’ve supported our members through so much – through global events that have impacted us here and through boom times in the region as well as Ghost Towns. We truly are standing on the shoulders of giants and that is why it is such a privilege to serve the businesses and wider community of this region.

“Coventry and Warwickshire has some of the most incredible businesses on the planet based here as well as fantastic universities and supportive local authorities and that’s why I am confident for the future.”

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Pictured (left to right): Tom Mongan (CW Chamber president), Baroness Lane Fox of Soho CBE, Shevaun Haviland (Director General of the British Chambers of Commerce), Corin Crane (chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce).

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