Top brands announce expansion plans at British Business Embassy

British firms announced substantial UK and overseas investment at the British Business Embassy Retail, Food and Drink summit in London today.

In a further boost to the sector, Vince Cable welcomed the appointment of Paul Walsh, CEO of Diageo plc, as a Business Ambassador for the food and drink industries. In this role he will help small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) access global markets and grow their businesses overseas.

Business Secretary Dr Vince Cable said: “The retail and food and drink sectors are major contributors to the UK economy. Retailers employ almost three million people, and food & drink is our single largest manufacturing sector – worth approximately £25 billion a year. Government is committed to working closely with firms in these sectors to stimulate growth and encourage new investment opportunities.”

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman said: “British food is already known the world over for its quality, and with surging population growth and clear demand for British products, there are opportunities for our producers to tap into emerging markets. The appointment of the new Food Business Ambassadors underlines the Government’s commitment to this sector as a source of employment, growth and exports to help drive the UK’s economic recovery.”

UK Trade & Investment announced that it will present a new retail strategy, Delivering for the Global Consumer at the World Retail Congress 19-21 September. The strategy will support the sector by identifying the markets presenting the biggest opportunities for international development and expansion, and delivering a market access programme for the UK retail industry. Particular attention will be paid to the UK’s world-class multi-channel offer for the retail sector, and to opportunities presented by the increasing global focus on sustainability, health and wellness.

British Retail Consortium (BRC) Director General Stephen Robertson said: “This signal that the Government wants to support the UK retail industry overseas is welcome and exactly what we’ve been calling for. We’re a significant exporter with overseas customers visiting UK retailers’ websites and flagship retailers driving growth through international expansion. David Cameron is right that all branches of Government should work together to promote UK retail investment. We’ll co-operate closely to develop the proposed international retail strategy but the ultimate test will be how much it really delivers progress in opening up markets for British retailers.”

The summit is one of 18 being organised by UK Trade & Investment during the Olympic and Paralympic Games to showcase British industry and promote international business opportunities. Speakers and participants include Marks and Spencer Chief Executive Marc Bolland, Diageo Chief Executive Paul Walsh, and Coca Cola Enterprises Global Chief Executive John Brock.