Previous event: Auto Retail Economic Forum

  24 August 2018

The QE2 Conference Centre, Westminster, London. Friday, 16th November 2018

Next year, the UK will leave the European Union severing political, economic and social ties that have helped shape this country for more than 45 years. The challenges ahead will strike at the heart of many industries, none more so than auto retailing.

How will the economy perform? What will happen to interest rates? How about consumer confidence? And will UK-car manufacturing survive?

The Auto Retail Economic Forum is a unique event that will examine the business-critical issues that automotive manufacturers and retailers will need to address in 2019 and beyond. It will be the only event of its kind dedicated specifically to auto retailing and will offer practical analysis to help you trade to a successful future.

The Forum will bring together a group of expert speakers including:

            * George Parker, political editor of the Financial Times

            * Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

            * Keith Wade, group chief economist, Schroders

            * Andy Barrett, chairman & managing director, Ford of Britain

            * David Bailey, Professor of Industrial Strategy, Aston Business School

            * John Hawksworth, chief economist, PwC

            * Andy Green, director, Santander Consumer Finance

            * Catherine Faiers, Operations Director, Auto Trader


In addition to fascinating and vital presentations, there will be ample opportunity to ask questions of these keynote speakers. The discussions will continue at a drinks reception, followed by a three-course lunch at which all delegates will have the opportunity to chat to one of our panel of experts.

The event will take place at the QEII Conference Centre, Westminster on Friday, 16 November  and tickets will be strictly limited to 100 places.

We anticipate a fascinating conference with lively discussion resulting in a greater understanding of the challenges ahead – and how to overcome them.



09.00 – 09.05: Welcome: Al Clarke, Auto Retail Network Conference Chairman

09.05 – 09.15: Conference introduction

Andrew Green, Director, Santander Consumer Finance

09.15 – 09.40: The outlook for 2019 – the current state of play, political scenarios, latest update on BREXIT and the political outlook for 2019

Speaker: George Parker, Political Editor, Financial Times

09.40 –  09.55: Keynote speech

Speaker: Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

09.55 – 10.15: Keynote speech

Speaker: Andy Barratt, Chairman & Managing Director, Ford of Britain

10.15 – 10.45: Refreshment Break

10.45 – 11.10: Where are we in the global economic cycle, and what is the outlook for 2019?

Global growth has benefited from an upswing in international trade which is now threatened by an escalating trade war between the US and China and potentially the US and the EU. Meanwhile, as the US Federal reserve raises interest rates, economists are asking whether we are close to the end of the cycle in the world’s largest economy. How will this affect the UK and the auto sector?

Speaker: Keith Wade, Group Chief Economist, Schroders

11.10 – 11.35: What next for the UK economy and consumer spending?

The UK economy has slowed over the past two years as Brexit-related uncertainty has dampened business investment while the weaker pound has pushed up inflation and squeezed real household spending power. UK interest rates have also started to edge up. But how might these factors evolve over the next year and what could this imply for consumer spending growth and car sales in 2019?

Speaker: John Hawksworth, Chief Economist, PwC

11.35 – 12.00: State of play for UK automotive

David will give a short overview of the state of the play of UK auto (with reference to European and international markets), discuss some of the policy issues affecting the market, offer some reflections on Brexit’s impact, and look ahead to new technologies and implications for the automotive value chain.

Speaker: David Bailey, Professor of Industrial Strategy, Economics & Strategy Group Aston Business School

12.00 – 12.20: Brexit and the economy: What does the consumer think?

Brexit is undeniably having an impact on consumer confidence, and therefore car purchases – 61% of car buyers recently stated that Brexit has had a direct impact on their car buying behavior. Catherine will look at what challenges and indeed opportunities today’s economic climate represents for new and used car sales.

Speaker: Catherine Faiers, Director, Auto Trader

12.20- 12.35: Panel Q&A: Catherine Faiers, David Bailey, Keith Wade, John Hawksworth

12.35 – 12.40: Conference summary and closing remarks

12.40 – 13.00: Pre- lunch drinks reception

13.00 – 14.30: Lunch

14.30: Event closes

Speaker Biographies:


Sir Keir Starmer is the Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union. Previously he was the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Head of the Crown Prosecution Service. As a barrister he has prosecuted in numerous cases for the CPS during his career, while acting principally as a defence lawyer specialising in human rights issues. He was appointed a Queen’s Counsel (QC) in 2002 and Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) in the 2014 New Year Honours. He was sworn in as a Privy Councillor on 19 July 2017.



Andy Barratt is Chairman and Managing Director, Ford of Britain with overall responsibility for operations in the UK. Prior to this he was Director, Sales, responsible for Ford’s sales operations in the UK, the largest market for Ford vehicles outside of the USA and China.  Ford has held passenger car leadership in the UK for 38 consecutive years and commercial vehicle leadership for 49 consecutive years, with Barratt overseeing recent sustained growth in commercial vehicle and car retail sales. Andy’s previous roles within the organisation also included leading the Ford Customer Service Division, responsible for the largest automotive parts and service business in Europe.


David Bailey is Professor of Industrial Strategy at the Aston Business School. He has written extensively on industrial and regional policy, especially in relation to manufacturing and the auto industry. His recent research has been funded by a number of state and private organisations. He is a regular newspaper columnist and media commentator.  He is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Regional Studies, as well as an editor of Policy Studies, and the Journal of Industry, Competition and Trade. He also sits on the advisory board of the RSA’s open access journal Regional Studies, Regional Science. A previous Chair of the Regional Studies Association, David is now Chair of the RSA Europe Think-Tank and policy forum.



John Hawksworth is an economist who specialises in macroeconomics and public policy issues. He is Chief Economist in PwC’s UK firm and editor of our Economic Outlook and World in 2050 reports. He has played a leading role in our economic research on global megatrends, labour markets, housing, pensions and ageing populations, good growth for cities and the public finances. He has carried out economic consultancy assignments for a wide range of public and private sector organisations over the past 30 years in both the UK and overseas.



Keith Wade is Chief Economist at Schroders, responsible for the economics team and the house view of the world economy. He is a member of the Group Asset Allocation Committee and communicates the house view to Schroder fund managers and clients around the world.
Prior to joining Schroders, Keith studied at the LSE and was a research officer at the London Business School where he focused on macroeconomic research and forecasting. He is a regular contributor to the media and industry conferences. He has co-authored a book on macroeconomics for MBA students.



George Parker, political editor, Financial Times. George is in his eleventh year as the Political Editor of the Financial Times, where he specialises in explaining and exploring the political and economic consequences of Brexit. Prior to his current job, George was the FT’s bureau chief in Brussels for five years (2002-7), giving him a unique insight into the Brexit negotiation from both sides of the table. George grew up in Devon and began his career on the Western Morning News in Barnstaple. He is a former chairman of the Press Gallery and is a regular presenter of Radio 4’s Week in Westminster.



Catherine Faiers is the Operations Director at Auto Trader and is jointly responsible for the day-to-day operations of the business. She is also focused on guiding the company’s strategy and development. Catherine was previously Chief Operating Officer at Addison Lee where she had responsibility for all aspects of operations with a team of over 750 employees, management of the base of 5,500 driver partners, fleet logistics and customer operations.  Catherine graduated from the University of Durham with a BA in Economics and is a qualified Chartered Accountant. She is also a mentor for female Entrepreneurs at ALT and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.



Andy Green is Director of Marketing and Innovation at Santander Consumer UK. He has been with Santander since the business started in the UK over 13 years ago, and has previously held senior Sales and Marketing positions with Barclays, First National, PSA Finance, and Lombard Motor Finance. With 34 years of experience in the motor finance industry Andy brings a wealth of knowledge to an environment that has undergone significant change, and is likely to see an even more challenging environment with Brexit and disruptive influences gathering momentum and speed.



Al Clarke, Conference Chairman, Auto Retail Network. Al has held senior executive roles with Ferrari, Maserati and the SMMT. Al started his career as a journalist and presenter with a decade working for the BBC and in commercial radio. He has an interest in the application of digital technology and connected car services in the automotive industry and regularly speaks at, and chairs events on, these issues.




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