In these uncertain times, MD Peter Church urges people to start celebrating UK business and open their eyes to its many success stories.

Last month, British Airways – an iconic example of a successful UK business – suffered a computer system failure that caused delays across its network. When you consider that roughly 350 BA flights depart from Heathrow every day, this was less than ideal. To combat the situation, BA used a manual fall-back process that, despite taking extra time, enabled most travellers to still make their flights, and things were back to normal the next day.

And the passengers affected were quick to celebrate BA and its excellent staff for having put a plan B in action so speedily, right? Of course not; they complained about queuing and having to have handwritten boarding passes – shock, horror!

If you hadn’t already noticed from my previous blogs, UK business and the importance of celebrating its successes is a topic I’m particularly passionate about. These days, we just don’t hear enough positive stories about UK business. As a nation, we have so much to offer – and do offer on a daily basis – however these stories are quick to fall beside the wayside when there’s the slightest opportunity for a good old-fashioned moan.

"Positive stories are quick to fall beside the wayside"

If I told you about a business that has annual sales of over £10bn, where all 88,000 employees are partners and share in the benefits and profits of the business, and that in the last eight years its staff have been paid an extra 10% to 15% on top of their annual salaries as a bonus, you’d probably say: “Where can I sign up?” The answer is here. John Lewis is a prime example of an employee-owned-business, and has a great reputation for outstanding service. It also has a long history of internal staff promotion and has just appointed a woman as MD who started 22 years ago as a graduate trainee. Yet this sort of news hardly ever gets a mention in the press; instead, last month’s dip in sales got wall-to-wall coverage. Surely, the bigger story should be why so few UK companies pay staff a bonus – could this be at the core of the UK’s low productivity?

When it comes to productivity, Nissan is one company doing things right at least. Its Sunderland plant produces more 'cars per worker' than any other factory and is the most productive car plant in Europe. So, unsurprisingly, the manufacturer recently committed long term to its UK HQ, despite the Brexit vote. The press jumped on this, hailing it as a sign that Britain can remain a profitable haven for overseas businesses, with Prime Minister Theresa May quoted saying: “This vote of confidence shows Britain is open for business.” But this completely misses the real story here. Nissan’s decision has nothing to do with Britain’s economic attractiveness; it’s to do with the fact that it has a committed workforce of over 6,000 efficient and well-trained employees that are prepared to go above and beyond for a company they’re passionate about. But do they get a mention in all this? Not a chance.

In conclusion, I believe the UK is full of successful, innovative companies with many well-motivated and committed staff, but all too often these stories are drowned out by negativity or someone else’s agenda. So, this week I challenge you to tell someone you meet about a great business you know and the great service you or your company receives from them. Let’s end the negativity and start thinking positive about UK business.