Blog: Dave LeggettSMMT Annual Dinner

Dave Leggett | 28 November 2012

The venue for the mass eat-in (1,100 diners from across the UK automotive sector, all dressed up in their finest penguin suits and frocks), was The Grosvenor, Park Lane - central London

The venue for the mass eat-in (1,100 diners from across the UK automotive sector, all dressed up in their finest penguin suits and frocks), was The Grosvenor, Park Lane - central London

The SMMT annual dinner last night was the usual agreeable fare. I was there as a guest of GKN and managed to squeeze in a very quick interview at the pre-dinner reception with Robert Rickell, GKN Driveline's Global Engineering Director (below link). It's not every day that you conduct an interview while standing with a glass of wine in one hand.

The general atmosphere from the people I spoke to seemed quite positive. Obviously there are challenges and issues out there, but there are also some positive stories, interesting innovations and so on. The UK situation isn't quite as bad as the picture in some other European countries. And, besides last night's decent feed, I'd give SMMT some plaudits for the recent 'meet the funder' event it put on; a very thoughtful initiative that should help smaller suppliers gain access to funding for much-needed investments.

By the way, the after dinner speaker last night - that's him on stage in the pic - was TV writer and satirist/comic (not sure exactly how to describe him) Alexander Armstrong. I have seen a few after dinner speakers at these affairs and I'd say he was one of the best I have seen for some time...easy listening, some very good topical lines, clearly not a major ego, and he didn't try to be clever with auto industry observations that can often seem laboured or tired cliches. And he kept it short, which never does any harm.

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