EPCA ’11: Longer-term strategies now needed – consultant

04 October 2011 14:53  [Source: ICIS news]

BERLIN (ICIS)--European chemical players must reassess their strategies and develop action plans that look beyond the current economic crisis, a consultant said on Tuesday.

Senior company managers need to develop an action plan for the next three years based on two or three potential scenarios for how the world might develop, according to Paul Hodges, chairman of UK-based consultancy International eChem.

Hodges was speaking on the sidelines of the 45th annual European Petrochemical Association meeting. “I think the mood is of great uncertainty,” said Hodges. “There are a lot of comparisons being made with 2008 and I think that people are today, quite rightly, worried.

“The real issue for me is that we’ve got to think beyond this crisis. This crisis is not occurring randomly, it’s occurring because the great driver[s] of demand over the past 30 years – the Western baby boomers – are now moving in to a new period in their lives. But we seem to insist on trying to believe that people of 65 are going to want to buy the same things they did when they were 35; it’s no wonder that policy makers are getting into a mess.”

This is discussed in the ICIS/International eChem Boom, Gloom and the New Normal eBook, co-authored by Hodges and John Richardson, director, ICIS training Asia.

Hodges said that now is the ideal opportunity to look ahead as firms plan for the next budget cycle. He added that they need to look at really challenging scenarios going ahead, which may mean changing business models as well as research and technical priorities.

“This is not a question of business as usual; companies that do not invest in the future may not survive,” said Hodges.

“People have not been used to clouds on the horizon. We went through a 25-year period where it was virtually always blue sky and sunshine,” he said. “This is obviously a very worrying time so let’s do something about it. Now is the ideal opportunity to plan ahead.

“It’s too early to say that the world is definitely going into another crisis, but it’s looking very much like that and I don’t think any prudent business person should ignore that possibility.”

Download Boom, Gloom and the New Normal: How Western Baby Boomers are Changing Global Chemical Demand Patterns, Again at www.icis.com/NewNormalEbook

By: Andy Brice
+44 20 8652 3214

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