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Shevaun Haviland: The First in 162 Years

When Shevaun Haviland joined the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) in May last year, becoming the first female director-general in the organization’s 161-year history, she was hoping for “sunlit uplands” as the UK recovered from Covid. Instead, as lockdowns eased and businesses returned to full capacity, she began to hear worrying reports from her members: shipping costs were going “through the roof”, they told her, while recruitment was becoming increasingly difficult.

At her first meeting with Andrew Bailey, the governor of the Bank of England, in June 2021, she passed on those concerns. “I said, governor, we’re hearing from our businesses about really big increases in the cost of raw materials, and they’re quite concerned with it. And he said, don’t worry about that – it’s just choppiness in the supply chain, it’ll be fine by September.” What Haviland had heard from her members told her otherwise. “I said, to be honest with you, we don’t think it’s going to be fine by September.”

It was not fine by September.

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