Keith Williams spoke as an invited panellist at the All Party Parliamentary Group debate at the House of Commons on the subject ”Are UK SMEs Globally Competitive?”
SME (Small and Medium Enterprises) vary in size from firms with a few staff and a turnover of less than £2m up to firms with a staff of 250 and a turnover of around £40m. It was accepted that the capacity, structure and resources of firms would vary considerably across such a wide range of company size, but the importune of the sector was acknowledged by all present including the cross-party MP representation. As SME’s represent more than 95% of all UK private companies their importance to the national economy is regarded as fundamental.
The wide ranging debate explored diverse subjects such as the availability of export finance to UK companies trading internationally, the impediments to companies hiring foreign staff with key skillsets that could help open up international markets.
Keith underlined the importance and standing of British architects and engineers who enjoy an extremely high reputation across the globe and are involved in designing some of the world’s most dynamic buildings and structures. He took that view that the measures of competition are highly complex particularly in the realm of professional design services. Citing the experience of his own firm, Keith Williams Architects, he commented that expertise and vision must for British firms always outweigh any price offer since a local bid would always be less than what a UK firm would need to charge.
Therefore the UK offer had to rest on excellence alone and the ability of UK design firms to lead the world in innovation.
The panel was chaired by Margot James MP, Chair, Trade and Investment APPG, and moderated by Andrew Clarke, Deputy Business Editor of the Times. Keith was joined by David Godfrey, Chief Executive, UKEF and Kerry Aglasotis, Global Managing Director, Western Union Business Solutions.