Leaders December 2012

My Favourite Numbers

The BCCJ 2012 British Business Awards (BBA) were the culmination of months of hard work and careful planning.

I would like to thank our hosts, the Conrad Tokyo hotel, our incredibly generous sponsors and, above all, the BCCJ’s secretariat, led by Executive Director Lori Henderson, as well as Vice-president Alison Jambert and her team for their months of hard work to ensure everyone enjoyed the dinner and rightly celebrated the remarkable relationship between the UK and Japan.

What follows is taken from my welcome speech at this year’s event. My apologies to the 186 people who have already heard it, and I trust that next year many more shall hear the words of welcome!

Everybody worries when a tax accountant is given the microphone and asked to address a roomful of people who are there to enjoy themselves.

Too often, we try to entertain the crowd with slides from our latest bird-watching trip, or talk about our favourite numbers. But, as I am not much of a twitcher, that leaves me to discuss my favourite numbers.

Twenty, 12. The numbers have become one and synonymous with a glorious year for the UK. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, with the grand flotilla on the Thames river; the best Olympic and Paralympic Games in the modern era; the first men’s Grand Slam tennis champion since Fred Perry in 1936. Yes, 2012 will remain one of my favourite numbers for some time.

How about 450 for the 450 British firms that currently have operations in Japan?

Or 8bn? That’s a good number. It represents the £8bn in goods and services that the UK exports to Japan each year.
Two more numbers that may come together: 125mn and 2,000.

One hundred and twenty-five million pounds is the amount that Nissan Motor Co., Ltd. invested in its UK plant in Sunderland earlier this year, creating 2,000 jobs in the north-east of England.

Or this great series of numbers: 700mn, 6, 14mn, 60 and 12,000. Oh, they are good numbers that any tax accountant would like. They represent the £700mn investment in the UK by Hitachi, Ltd. to build up to six new nuclear power stations that will provide energy for almost 14mn homes for up to 60 years, while at the same time creating 12,000 jobs in the UK.

Oh, yes, good numbers indeed! But, moving closer to home, another of my favourite numbers is 724.

This represents the 724 members of the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan. Despite the tough economic times, this number is steadily rising—a sign of the value our members see in being part of this great community.

And, finally, 180. No, not in memory of the late, great sports commentator and TV personality, Sid Waddell, and his catchphrase, but the 180 members, guests and friends who gathered at the fifth annual BBA to celebrate the significant partnership between the UK and Japan: the deep, wide and growing bond that ties the two countries together.

One final number: 50. It has been 50 years since he arrived on our screens and, with the advent of Skyfall, may he grace them for 50 more. Ladies and gentlemen, James Bond …

Finally, a video digest of the 2012 BBA, produced by Custom Media, may be viewed at: