News | May 28, 2024

The Future Of The UK Coatings Industry Takes Precedence At The 2024 BCF Conference

  • Calling of the UK General Election allowed BCF to remind delegates of its five asks for the future Government in its Essential Coatings report and manifesto
  • Delegates were shown how they can create opportunities by utilising the latest innovative technologies in their business operations
  • Raising awareness of the value proposition for the coatings industry to the next generation of young talent and supporting the development of young leaders in the sector was a key focus of the Conference

Over 160 senior decision-makers from the UK's paints, coatings, printing ink and wallcoverings sectors gathered in Manchester for the annual British Coatings Federation (BCF) Annual Conference on Thursday 23rd May.

The opening session covered the UK and global political and economic outlook, hearing from Andrea Boltho of Oxford Economics and BCF’s own Public Affairs Manager David Park who delivered his perceptions and predictions for the future of government following the announcement of the UK General Election shortly before the event. Roald Johannsen, Vice President of Automotive Coatings EMEA at PPG, closed the session by outlining European Coatings Association CEPE’s future strategy in his role as Chairman and how members can benefit through BCF’s international relations.

The day's proceedings took a forward-looking focus, hearing from Sherin Mathew, founder of AI Tech UK, followed by Fhaheen Khan, Senior Economist at Make UK and Professor Allan Matthews of the University of Manchester, who all provided insights into how businesses can harness and benefit from digitisation and innovation.

The afternoon session opened with an interactive panel discussion, chaired by Steve Bennett of Business of Science. He was joined by Tim Doggett of the Chemical Business Association, and participants from BCF member companies Molly Kershaw of PPG Architectural Coatings (BCF Young Leader of the Year 2023 and member of Coatings NextGen Council), Helen Anderton of INX International (Co-Chair of Coatings NextGen Council) and Andrew Roser of AkzoNobel – Dulux Decorator Centre (BCF Apprentice of the Year 2022 and Co-Chair of Coatings NextGen Council). They all provided valuable perceptions on how BCF and the wider chemical supply chain can look to promote careers in, and find future leaders for, the industry. It was also announced that in 2024, BCF have teamed up with skills body Cogent Skills to form the BCF’s new group, the Coatings NextGen Council, made up of the industry’s young leaders who will act as the steering committee for BCF’s future careers work.

This theme of careers was also followed by keynote speaker Toni Kent, Former Microsoft Manager, speaker, writer and podcast host who shared her story to provide an inspirational talk on social mobility and the future of work. The day's proceedings were closed by BCF CEO Tom Bowtell, taking to the stage to outline BCF’s highlights of the last year, and the challenges facing the sector.

After a fantastic day of networking with industry colleagues, the delegates at the evening dinner were entertained by stand-up comedian Justin Moorhouse.

The event also raised over £2,000 for the event’s charity partner, Community Heartbeat Trust, and its Minutes Matter Campaign, which has installed over 800 lifesaving defibrillator stations in red phone boxes across the UK, with paint provided by BCF member companies.

BCF CEO Tom Bowtell commented:
“It is vital that we as the trade association for the coatings sector always look ahead and assist our members in their own planning for the future. With the growth of AI, broader digitisation and innovation across the industry, we are keen to highlight and debate how coatings businesses can benefit, or not be caught out by change. Moreover, in addition to promoting new technologies, we must do more to encourage more young people to pursue careers in coatings. It was therefore fantastic that the conference was so supportive of our vision for promoting the industry to the next generation through our newly-formed Coatings NextGen Council.

“As well as careers and technology we also need to continue to look forward on a policy and regulatory basis too. With the UK General Election being announced less than 24 hours before the conference began, it also gave us the opportunity to remind delegates of BCF’s five policy asks for whoever forms the next Administration. We look forward to working with our members to engage with parliamentary candidates, MPs and Ministers to make clear what our sector needs from Government in future.”

BCF President Sharon Harte closed the Conference by thanking lead sponsor WRX Trade, and other sponsors Protex Chemicals, IMCD Group, Lisam Systems and Terrafend for their generous support.

Source: British Coatings Federation Ltd