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Blog: Matthew Merritt-Harrison FCSI

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The new chair of FCSI UK & Ireland, Matthew Merritt-Harrison, reflects on the year ahead

It was good to welcome our professional and allied members, Remko van der Graaf FCSI, chair of the EAME Board, and our honoured guests to the Law Society for the FCSI UK & Ireland AGM and an excellent lunch in December. It was an opportunity to thank all those who have supported the FCSI over the past two years.

Particular thanks were given to our Allied members for their support, and to the Allied representatives on the UK & Ireland executive, Mick Jary and Steve Buckmaster. Louise Willis was also thanked for all her support and hard work as executive director. She undertakes a key role which, at times, can be challenging, and she does it with professionalism and grace.

Key challenges

So where do we see the FCSI UK & Ireland going? We are living in uncertain times; we do not know what the outcome of the UK leaving the European Union will be, but I am certain of one thing: very few are benefiting from it. There will be challenges with trade: availability of staff and goods, and potentially new tariffs will be imposed. All of this will put upward pressure on costs.

We, at the FCSI, need to work together with other bodies including CEDA, CESA, the Institute of Hospitality and UK Hospitality, to have a united voice and make a difference.

We need to be inclusive – we should welcome back any professional consultants who may have left but would like to rejoin, as long as they can demonstrate their independence and professional standards. We also needed a new treasurer and vice chair, and I am pleased to say that two excellent consultants, one management and one design, have indicated that they are ready and willing to serve in these roles. For this I am particularly grateful.

Delivering benefits

At the FCSI, our key focus must be on delivering benefits to all our members: both Professional (management advisory and design) and Allied. We need to be open and transparent, ensuring value is delivered for the membership from every pound contributed.

We must reinforce to the market and potential clients the importance of using FCSI consultants. Using someone who is not an FCSI member to undertake catering advice or design is like asking a builder to design your office block. They may be a good builder, but an architect they are not.

In the coming year, the FCSI is leading on the review of the CIBSE Guide to Energy Efficiency in Commercial Kitchens. This is being led by Roz Burgess FCSI and supported by others. The policy is, if you are not an FCSI member, you cannot be involved in developing the new CIBSE guide.

Finally, we need to robustly uphold the code of conduct and take to task any who disregard the standards that the rest of us are adhering to.

I wish you all a successful and prosperous 2019.

Matthew Merritt-Harrison