Rob Perks, CEO of Inspire, appears on BBC Wiltshire again, speaking about today’s topical news

 

Rob Perks, CEO of Inspire by Wessex Chambers of Commerce, appeared on BBC Wiltshire’s breakfast show with Ben Prater at 7.45am on 7th January 2019. He discussed the topical news of the day, including the impacts of an uncertain Brexit is having on businesses, the future of the NHS and the how retailers should be adapting to evolving customer behaviours, particularly over the Christmas period.

 

BBC Wiltshire Breakfast show transcript

Ben: Good morning, Rob

Rob: Morning Ben, Happy New Year

Ben: Happy New Year to you too, it’s an interesting one that how long do you go in 2019 saying happy new year to someone, when’s the cutoff

Rob: I think you can get away with it until the end of January but I did have somebody over the weekend say happy Christmas to me which was a bit odd (laughs)

Ben: (laughs) You’ve got to be so brave just to ignore it completely. There was a strange moment with my neighbour how do we say hello to each other during this strange time in January (laughs) What are all the front pages saying today?

Rob: There seems to be two really big stories, clearly the whole return of parliament, the Brexit debate, the big couple of weeks that are coming up that’s clearly one major story. The other one which I know you’ve been covering this morning is the NHS, they’re looking to bring new things to the NHS to use money more effectively and hopefully focus much more on prevention and healthier living as the way of reducing costs as opposed to picking up problems late on when they’re really difficult to deal with

Ben: With Brexit Rob, do you feel that people have enjoyed a few weeks off without arguing with their families and nneighboursabout it?

Rob: I certainly do

Ben: Before we have to start it again and start dredging it up

Rob: I certainly did and we came back to it with a bang on the 31st of December with government business getting in touch with us talking a lot of about this preparation of the no-deal but also asking what businesses need so there seems to be quite a focus on do we need to put some money in to actually support businesses through this difficult period, I think that’s something we’ll hear more about in the next couple of weeks, so we’ve been talking to businesses a lot actually and I think the biggest killer is the idea that we delay things and article 50 gets put off for another year or something like that, that will be the worst thing for business because it’s the uncertainty of carrying on for another 12 months

Ben:  Certainly, I saw a report in The Times today with the words 2021 mentioned trying to get some delay until then and surely whatever side of the fence you’re on, your heart just sinks at the thought of that

Rob: Yeah whenever you talk to a business, regardless of the different issues they’ve got the one thing they’ve got in common is lets get something through and done whatever it is even if it’s a no-deal lets get it out of the way, we know what we’re working with and if we can work around that but this whole thing of it might be this, it might be that is really wearing everybody down

Ben: Lets look at the NHS then and the different points you’ve referenced that, what are some of the different stories?

Rob: So this idea that artificial intelligence, which is now the big buzzword and really will be over the coming 10 years increasingly, more can be done with detection now than ever before, so gene detection to try and identify problems very early on maybe even before they’ve manifested so that proactive treatment can happen before the disease actually appears, so childhood cancers for example is one of those also heart attacks and strokes and those sorts of things, so I think artificial intelligence will play a huge part in the NHS going forward, there’s this thing called Watson computer that’s been developed that can process about 2000 pieces of medical research per second and come up with all kinds of results that the human brain would take weeks to work out so I think we’ll see more and more of that as we go forward

Ben: We’ve had this for decades, this hypothetical would you want to know, if you were susceptible to what could go wrong with your body and I certainly know I wouldn’t but this is slightly different I suppose because you’re not just going at this age, it’s you might get this so lets get the wheels rolling so we know to avoid it

Rob: Yeah I think diabetes is an obvious one as an increasing problem across the NHS but I think if people could know well in advanced that this is something they’re predisposed towards, getting their diet right or exercise regime right, trying to maintain weight control, those sorts of things, it’s not a horrendous thing to find out because actually, there are quite a lot of things you can do about it, especially for type 2 diabetes so I think it will be those sorts of things that probably will be the ones that will be exciting developments and help with this social care and old age, that’s another massive cost on the NHS

Ben: This is it, if we’re all being kept alive longer it’s problems of its own trying to pay for everybody. The Times and the presents and the retail story, 1 in 4 presents are going back to stores, its bizarre

Rob: Yeah that’s a really concerning thing, and I think it’s really concerning for retail, the shops have had a pretty tardy Christmas, not so much online but the high street shops have had a difficult time as it is, I think when the figures come out it will show its been one of the worst times in years, people spending in the shops and then to find people coming back in trying to get refunds because it isn’t the Christmas jumpers they really want, but toys and gadgets and duplicate presents could really be almost a death now for some retailers that have been struggling over Christmas already so I think that’s quite a worry that story

Ben: Parcel firms benefiting from it I suppose with all those re-wraps and sending it back but some people don’t care do they, they just get it because of the free returns

Rob: Yeah I was talking to some of the ladies in the office talking about they get clothes, maybe 8 coats, on the basis that you can send them all back if you don’t like them or just keep the one that you do like so in the old days you would have gone to the shop and tried them on, walked down the road and tried another, but we always come back to the first shop anyway (both laugh) but at least you’d be doing that whereas now I think people are like I can’t be bothered with that we’ll just order 8 online and send them all back

Ben: The high street point you picked up on, they’re going to change massively aren’t they, in the next couple of years, there’s no way around it now things have to be fundamentally different

Rob: Yeah I think that’s absolutely right and I think the shops that provide advice to people would say still have a place on the high street but the idea when you go in and do transactions when now its so much easier online, at short notice it can arrive quickly with no hassle, people will be doing that more and more and the high street, the idea that you go and buy a particular item at a shop, park up, pay a parking fee and walk in the crowds, the whole thing takes two hours when in 2 minutes you can order it online, that’s not going to change

Ben: Rob, its been good to have you in, you can be the judge of this, I had a friend round on the weekend and they’ve come back from America and we’re going next year, so I was getting the tips to save a few quid, and he said the best thing I did was to save money with the car hire sat nav, I went to the nearest electric shop and bought one and took it back on the way to the airport, and apparently everyone’s doing that now (laughs) no questions asked as long as you’ve got the box and receipt. Rob Perks, good to have you with us, CEO of Inspire by Wessex Chambers of Commerce, on the programme today

 

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