Mindfulness – a collective responsibility for avoiding ‘burnout’ and preserving the mental wellbeing of our workforce

With uncanny foresight to coincide with Mental Health Awareness Week, the BPCC organised another of its popular brainstorming think-tank lunches where a select group were invited to debate an issue which impacts on the workplace. Prompted by the increased prominence on many corporate agendas, we challenged ourselves to discussing “Mindfulness – a collective responsibility for avoiding ‘burnout’ and preserving the mental wellbeing of our workforce”.

Within the convivial surroundings of our regular hosts, the Santiago de Alfama Boutique Hotel, and kindly sponsored by Teresa Patrício & Partners, the discussion was kicked off by BPCC CEO, Chris Barton, who invited participants to suggest their own interpretation of “mindfulness”; what were their personal experiences; did their companies have policies regarding the mental welfare of their employees? and was there a danger that showing care towards an employee’s wellbeing might be confused with invasion of personal space or intrusion?

Blessed with a wonderful blend of backgrounds, the group benefited from a broad range of perspectives; including those who managed multinational corporations with multicultural employees, medical doctors, lawyers, the head of a coding school, human performance coaches, engineers and a headmaster.

We settled on a definition of Mindfulness being “the mental state achieved by focussing one’s awareness on the present moment”, leaving behind preconceptions, biases and mood – concentrating on what is going on in real time.

Whilst many participants advocated focussing on our breathing and posture as part of their routine for attempting a mindful state, others admitted that their best “light-bulb moments” came in the shower, whilst others sensed a certain connectivity when walking barefoot on the sand. Achieving the state of “Here and Now” proved to be challenging within the usual confines of sitting at a desk in a busy office; proximity to nature whilst enjoying passive exercise might provide more conducive conditions for some.

Each participant perceived different types or origins of stress. The school headmaster amongst us not only had to cope with his own issues (like us all), but also the mental welfare of the staff and pupils within his care and the parents which entrusted their precious children to his school. Education is far more than academic learning; developing a ’whole person’ with a healthy body and mind is the true objective. The group reflected on whether we were a lost generation on this matter, and perhaps it would only be the next generation, or the one after that, which would lead with mindfulness at the core of heir culture, values and principles.

It was very enlightening to hear of the amount of mindfulness training which the group had already participated in. Our academic guest shared his scientific findings; one HR director was a practitioner of martial arts so resonated readily with the concept of ridding the mind of distracting thoughts in order to focus, and our speech and presence coach was able to articulate the functions of the left and right hemispheres of the brain in this complex issue. Evolution, parental advice and brain training were all thrown into the mix too. Teaching people how to achieve Nirvana was always going to be a daunting task, though that wasn’t our aim. However, what we did achieve was that each member of the group went away inspired and with further food for thought, in the knowledge that no matter how congested they may find their mental workload, they are not alone; they have made new friends with whom they can share their concerns and in the comfort that there is an attainable solution.

Chamber Members wishing to participate in further editions of these thought-provoking brainstorming think-tank lunches should contact Chris Barton indicating which theme you would be interested in.

Storyline: Bob Williams
The Ops Gents

Brainstorming Lunch ‘Ladies of Influence’

This was a very special invitation only lunch, organised by The BPCC, at the elegant, historic Oporto Cricket and Lawn Tennis Club on a bright, sunshine-filled Spring day, for a group of approximately fifteen invited guests. The guests had been carefully chosen to represent a broad spectrum of both business and life interests, yet offering a fascinating blend of minds and personalities, with the general dual aim of both traditional and curated networking amongst participants, but also to debate a topic of interest to all, with diverse opinions and interpretations, entitled, ‘Ladies of Influence’.

From the moment the guests began to arrive at the spacious bar and terrace, lively conversation sprang up, as pleasantries and introductions took place, common interests discovered, contacts exchanged and an equal mix of business opportunities and the excitement of meeting like-minded, interesting people evolved simultaneously. A wide variety of companies, skills, talents and occupations was represented, from lawyers, telecommunications experts, car rental Account Managers, an Information specialist, an International Negotiator and author, businesspeople, wine producers, ballroom dancing teachers and horse specialists among many others, through to artists, teachers and astrologers. Each guest had ample time to introduce themselves to the group as a whole, and to talk about their particular situation and professional interests.

The joy of this kind of coming together is in the unexpected discovery, not only of new acquaintances and potential friends, or a simple exchange of business cards, but in the creative synergy that forms, the stimulus of new ideas and new ways to cooperate and be of mutual support in business, a synthesis of positive vibrations! Networking at its most effective level.

In fact, the conversation was so vibrant and intense, that the main discussion theme had to wait a little while for all this excitement to lessen a little until we diverted our minds to the main theme. The main question for debate was to share opinion on the rising number of women in leadership positions, now very much on the increase, and to debate as to whether companies were developing the concept of gender parity in their future strategies, with reference to a recent study by EY ‘Is the X chromosome the X factor for business leadership?’ This asserts that companies led by women are more focussed on increasing market share, and women leaders looking to top positions in their respective industries, when compared to men. The study concludes that more women seek businesses which embrace a more collaborative strategy than men, looking for alliances with external partners with a view to innovate. Lively discussion ensued, with the ladies present especially relating their own experiences of the ‘glass ceiling’ in their careers, and of the importance of support both in the workplace and from partners at home.

The meal itself was delicious, comprising a delicate but tasty seafood starter, a main course of either a filled filo pastry Spring roll with mushroom sauce, or a fish dish, and a creamy mousse dessert with fruit salad also an option. Our table was in a wonderful position to view the sports grounds and beautiful trees and flowers, basking in sunlight.

It was a highly enjoyable and successful event, beautifully conceived and organised by Inês, and she is to be thanked and congratulated for both the concept, and the ability to bring together such an extraordinary mix of creative, talented yet driven guests, creating the perfect mix of individuals.

Text&Photos: Linda Janet Chaves

Vendas do Mercado Online de Arte atingem os 4.640 milhões de dólares

  • Crescimento de 9,8% nos últimos 12 meses
  • Previsão de duplicação do valor em 5 anos, alcançando os 9.320 milhões de dólares em 2024
  • Apreensão sobre o crescimento das plataformas online de arte
  • O Instagram continua a ser a rede social preferida
  • 55% dos inquiridos afirma que irá comprar mais arte nos próximos 12 meses
  • 29% dos compradores Millennial afirmam preferir comprar arte online.

A sétima edição do estudo anual Hiscox Online Art Trade Report sobre o mercado online de arte, revela um valor estimado de 4.640 milhões de dólares para o mercado de arte online, o que significa um aumento de 9,8% em 12 meses. Apesar do decréscimo face ao período homólogo prevê-se que o valor do mercado online de arte possa alcançar os 9.320 milhões de dólares em 2024.

O estudo indica uma taxa de crescimento em desaceleração pelo terceiro ano consecutivo, com um decréscimo de 3 pontos percentuais face a 2018, em que o crescimento tinha sido de 12%. Segundo Robert Read, diretor de Arte e Clientes Privados da Hiscox, “2018 não foi um ano de mudança e esperamos para ver onde a consolidação e as perdas nos irão levar num mercado que está claramente superlotado. Talvez estejamos a assistir a uma mudança já que a confiança das plataformas online relativamente ao futuro caiu significativamente este ano.” Por outro lado é possível que a evolução do mercado de arte em geral e o aumento de volume entre 11% e 17% das divisões online da Sotheby’s, da Christie’s e da Heritage Auction abrandem esta desaceleração.

Principais conclusões: Concorrência: Uma em cada duas plataformas online acredita que a maior concorrência de mercado são os leilões (apenas 18% fizeram essa afirmação na edição anterior), enquanto que 46% apontam para as galerias com loja online como a sua principal concorrência, mais 8% que em 2018.

Evolução do mercado: Apesar de 77% das plataformas online entrevistadas terem uma opinião positiva sobre a evolução do mercado online de arte para os próximos 12 meses, esta confiança caiu significativamente quando comparada com 2018 (96%). Adicionalmente, 71% das plataformas online afirmaram esperar mais consolidação entre as plataformas online de arte nos próximos 12 meses.

Desafios: Para 64% das plataformas inquiridas a construção da confiança junto do colecionador e o reconhecimento da marca são os principais desafios do mercado.

Compra de arte: 55% dos compradores online de arte entrevistados dizem que vão comprar mais arte este ano, 3% mais do que no ano anterior (52%).

Redes Sociais: O Instagram consolidou a sua liderança com 65% dos consumidores a escolherem esta plataforma como a sua rede social preferida para fins relacionados com arte, em comparação com 63% em 2018.

Geração Millennial: 79% dos Millennials inquiridos afirmaram terem comprado arte online mais do que uma vez (64% em 2018). Da mesma forma, 23% afirmam que nunca compraram arte num espaço físico (como galerias, leilões ou feiras de arte), face aos 18% do ano passado. 51% dos entrevistados com menos de 30 anos consideram a propriedade de peças de arte como uma forma de investimento.

Blockchain: No mercado de arte este sistema é utilizado para verificação da origem e para registo de propriedade. Metade das plataformas online garante que a tecnologia blockchain será bem-sucedida nos próximos anos no controle e registo do título/propriedade.

Para mais informações, o estudo completo encontra-se disponível em https://www.hiscox.co.uk/online-art-trade-report

Artificial Intelligence – Where will all the jobs go?

Kindly Sponsored by:

The scene was perfectly set as has become the regular in the Santiago de Alfama Hotel, kindly hosted by Manuel Rosa de Silva, proudly announcing the “Best Boutique Hotel in Europe” status which is clearly recongised by the 87% American clientele he hosts, which incidentally is 80% from the West Coast (San Francisco). If the walls could talk, they would have added even more to the discussion that was had.

As ever, the event was opened by BPCC CEO Chris Barton (standing in as photographer for the day too) and due thanks were passed to Carlos Oliveira and Moneris for sponsoring the lunch. The introductions followed and it is safe to say that all those present were intrigued and impressed by the diversity and experience of their lunch partners. Mr. Oliveira as sponsor was given the floor to commence the discussion. What happened next surprised all and demonstrated the complexity of what was thought to be a rather simple “think tank” question.

Should people have been asked to create a list of subjects to be covered under the “AI Umbrella”, one would not have potentially included, gene editing, university degree currency limits, computer written music, the expansion of the universe, and the definition of consciousness, but such was the breadth of experience around the table and collective intellectual hunger.

It is quite impossible to summarise the afternoon safe to say that this is largely not a subject about technology but about legitimate, and largely positive, curiosity about the future for the next (and following) generation; have their jobs been created yet, what will be the professions of the future. Subscribing to AI being a pillar of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the social implications have to remain front of mind.

If a summary were required it would that probably people do not appreciate how far AI has already advanced, computers can indeed obtain intelligence as is defined “the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills”, the limit is how much we teach them but when we do, and they gain intelligence, they are quicker at applying it and do so without any ingrained bias’.

The discussion, like this report, could have gone on for many hours. An epic event (as we have become accustomed), quite the meeting of minds brought together by the common membership of our BPCC.

Text: Bob Williams The Ops Gent

Photos: Chris Barton

Insurance implications of a no deal BREXIT

In light of the uncertainties on the outcome of Brexit the Portuguese Insurance Association (APS – ASSOCIAÇÃO PORTUGUESA DE SEGURADORES) has launched a check list for insurance policies in the case of a No Deal Brexit. Please choose the check list in your prefered language from the icons below:

Information Kindly supplied by

Torneio de Golfe no Bom Sucesso

Kindly sponsored by:

Mais um Torneio de Golfe de sucesso teve lugar no Bom Sucesso – Design Resort, Leisure & Golf no passado dia 9 de Março. O nosso especial agradecimento à Savills pelo seu valioso apoio! Agradecemos igualmente aos apoiantes da tômbola: Hoteis Heritage Lisboa, Corinthia Hotels Limited, Grupo Continental Hotels, Estoril Hotel Golf & Spa e Aigle Azur.

Aqui ficam alguns momentos deste agradável dia, que teve como vencedor do 1.º prémio Gross o Matthew Smith da nossa associada Cushman & Wakefield.

Blue for boys and pink for girls – are we educating our children for discriminatory behaviour?

The BPCC think-tank meeting on January 24th was well attended at the marvellous Santiago de Alfama hotel. The group of attendees represented a wide cross-section of business industries including real estate, business prospecting, legal, marketing, banking, travel and more´

On the subject ‘is blue for boys and pink for girls? Are we moulding our children for professional future depending on the gender?’ The group of entrepreneurial women with very strong and well defined ideas about the subject, along with a special male guest who gave great balance to the discussion; the ideas quickly started to take an interesting form.

The group exchanged many ideas and experiences with a very heterogenous view. The subject quickly moved to the considerations of the future, “Are we in fact shaping our children to chose a professional option depending on their gender?”; “Indeed, will the future include such thing as gender?”; “Will the future have professions only for boys or only for girls?”

On these complex hypotheses, many opinions were raised and doubts still remained about how the future would evolve, but there was unanimous agreement within the conscientious group, in that all were committed to encourage new generations to pursue ambitious achievements and happiness based on their own free-will; though hopefully that free-will would include values such as respect for themselves as well as for others.

Society is changing. Conscience and values are imposing. Pink is no longer exclusive for girls, nor blue for boys. These biases are dropping and as guardians of the new generation we have the enormous responsibility of adapting to the digital era which is full of challenges, and all that implies.

The discussion was long and meaningful; many more ideas for further encounters were suggested amongst the new friendships which had been formed. Time very well spent.

The meal was exceptional, with two main course, delicious tagliatelle with a tomato cream-based sauce and a Portuguese style steak, followed by a “torta de azeitao” with ice cream and fruit salad. The lunch was a fulfilling meeting of history, memories, good people, strong ideas and a feeling that we all are stronger as a group in the society and that together we can do more for the new generation which are our future.

A sincere thank you to the Santiago de Alfama Hotel for hosting the group and allowing us to brainstorm. The hotel walls are filled with the touching family memories creating a wonderfully comfortable atmosphere. The hotel being beautifully located in the São Jorge Castle area, a very important landmark for Portuguese and Lisbon History.

Text by Sofia Magalhães.

Turismo de excelência, um desafio de geração – alerta Consultora

A primeira conferência internacional organizada pela consultora Essentia — com o tema “Marcas Globais, Destinos de Turismo e Mercado Imobiliário… como fazer o melhor com este trio?” — comprovou “que Portugal está no bom caminho como um destino turístico de excelência”. A Conferência decorreu na Estufa Real, na Ajuda, em Lisboa e contou com a participação de muitas figuras e players importantes do turismo e do imobiliário nacional e internacional.

Ao intervir no evento, José Gil Duarte, Founder & CEO da ESSENTIA, revelou que se vive um momento extraordinário e que apesar de toda a pressão que isso possa causar, gera também inúmeras oportunidades. Referiu que o contributo do turismo para o PIB representava 7,8% em 2017 e que este sector apresentou uma evolução muito grande nos últimos anos. “A exposição do nosso país a nível internacional tem sido crescente” – adiantou, “basta ver que em 2011 realizaram-se 19 grandes eventos internacionais e em 2015 passaram para 145. Só em chegadas ao aeroporto de Lisboa o aumento foi de 91,2%”. Para o responsável “é um desafio de geração!”.

Um crescimento na chegada de turistas a Portugal confirmado por Miguel Frasquilho, presidente do Conselho de Administração da TAP. Na sua apresentação revelou que o aeroporto Humberto Delgado, em Lisboa, deve fechar o ano com 30 milhões de passageiros e um novo “recorde”. Para o próximo ano adiantou que vão surgir novas rotas e que a TAP “está a tornar-se cada vez mais numa marca global”.

Não há razões para não ter ambição….
Portugal como destino turístico está em crescendo e apesar do boom e da entrada de investimento ainda há um longo caminho a percorrer. Quem o afirmou foi José Roquette, Chief Development Officer do Pestana Hotel Group. Para o responsável, tanto a capital portuguesa como o Porto encontram-se hoje num grande dinamismo e passaram para a segunda divisão do turismo. “Estamos num momento muito forte mas ainda há muito a fazer. Lisboa está mais exposta à procura a nível internacional e daí não há razão nenhuma para não ter ambição”, adiantou.
Begoña Íñiguez, jornalista espanhola e ex-presidente da Associação da Imprensa Estrangeira em Portugal, também concorda que Portugal está na segunda divisão no turismo mas acredita que isso pode servir para aprender com os erros dos outros países. A jornalista a viver e trabalhar há 15 anos no nosso país, salientou a evolução favorável da cidade de Lisboa nestes últimos anos. Mas aconselha que não se deve perder a autenticidade. Na sua opinião, Portugal tem um potencial incrível.

Marcas internacionais vão investir em Portugal
Gerard Greene, Founder & CEO da Society, que foi um dos criadores do Yotel, considerado o “Ipod” da indústria hoteleira, anunciou também na conferência, que com a sua nova empresa vem para a capital e apostar no co-living. Afirmou ainda que Lisboa é uma cidade fantástica para investir.
Também Kike Sarasola, presidente do grupo Room Mate e um dos presentes neste encontro fez questão de anunciar o lançamento de um empreendimento em Lisboa, contudo não revelou mais pormenores.
O mesmo aconteceu com Nuno Galvão Pinto, vice-presidente de Desenvolvimento e Aquisições do grupo Hyatt para as regiões da Europa e Norte de África, que admitiu o interesse em investir no nosso país, nomeadamente em Lisboa, talvez já no próximo ano.

Ajudar a elevar a fasquia da excelência de Lisboa
A Essentia, empresa de consultoria nas áreas, “da Reabilitação Urbana, do Imobiliário de nicho, da Hotelaria e Turismo Sustentável, bem como no Território de Redes de Cultura e de Lazer”, tem nas suas mãos a coordenação de alguns dos projectos mais emblemáticos para a cidade de Lisboa, mostrando empenhada em “contribuir para elevar a fasquia da qualidade”.
A empresa, encontra-se actualmente “a trabalhar em projectos que abrangem cerca de 76.500 metros quadrados para reabilitar na capital portuguesa, distribuídos por 11 grandes empreendimentos nos locais mais desejados da capital portuguesa, que vão nascer a partir de imóveis históricos, palácios e palacetes, que esperam por reabilitação e novos destinos, desde habitação ao turismo, entre eles o conhecido Quarteirão da Portugália, com assinatura do atelier ARX”.

Text and Photos:
Diário Imobiliário


“Nothing is impossible at this stage” says new UK ambassador to Portugal

Chris Sainty Brexit Speech

“Anything is possible with Brexit at this stage” according to the new British Ambassador to Portugal, Chris Sainty who addressed a select members of the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce this week.

“We are genuinely in an unprecedented uncertain situation, particularly if the vote goes against the Government next week (Tuesday),” he said.

On the scenario or a second referendum and the possibility of staying in the EU, he warned that there are “really formidable obstacles” with the need for legislation in the UK to hold a second referendum. “It’s very hard to see without a government that is willing to take that legislation through Parliament, how that is going to happen” he said.

Then there is the issue of having a majority in the House of Commons which would even vote for a second referendum. “That too is very doubtful.”

The third major obstacle is that there is no time to held a referendum now and the date of the UK’s departure next year. This would mean changing the date of departure which would be difficult politically and that in itself would require another piece of legislation.

“Finally, if we got through all that, and there was another referendum with a vote to remain, we would have to revoke our Article 50 notification and how you would do that is now the subject of a fierce debate in the European Court of Justice” said Sainty.

Another possibility is a Norway or EEA style arrangement with a custom’s union as well to solve the Irish border question which in turn would raise a whole series or difficult legislative obstacles.

On the 25 November the European leaders met in Brussels and signed off on the deal which had been provisionally concluded in the preceding days by the EU and UK negotiators following 18 months of very difficult and intense negotiations taking place in a public spotlight and on some of the most difficult and intractable issues to have come up in any EU political negotiations for many years.

“Whatever the fate of the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration in the coming days, it was quite an achievement, it’s worth underlining just what an extraordinary result the agreement was.”

Now in the final days of the very noisy and intense political debate in the British Parliament leading up to a vote on Tuesday (11 December).

“I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that this vote is probably the most important decision that this parliament has been asked to take for many years, it is a decision that will really have very profound implications for the UK for years to come.

THE DEAL Consists of two documents:

The Withdrawal Agreement (585 pages), essentially a draft treaty, which if ratified would be a legally binding document and lays down the terms of the UK’s departure. It covers a number of important areas: the right of citizens of the EU and UK living in each other’s territories, the amount of money the UK will pay for leaving the EU, the extraordinarily difficult issue of how to ensure that we never have to institute a hard customs border in Northern Ireland and the 21 month transition period. The Political Declaration (26 pages) represents a joint aspiration between the UK and EU on how both would like the future trading and security relationship to look like. During the next 21 months that would be converted into a legally binding treaty itself which would come into foce on 20 January 2021.

DEAL APPROVED If the deal is approved, and that can’t be discounted, there can be a high degree of confidence that the UK will leave the EU on the March 29 next year “in an orderly way.”

A 21 month transition period will offer a guarantee for a considerable degree of continuity and certainty — two words which are of particular importance to the business community which views it as an attractive scenario from that perspective. It means the UK will remain inside the Customs’s Union and Single Market until the end of 2020. That means that in terms of the rules and the legal framework and the way in which goods and services move across borders — none of that will change until at least the end of 2020.

During the 21 months, the idea is the UK and EU return to the negotiating table and convert the second part of the deal, the political declaration.

“This is a reassuring message to business and economic actors” says the ambassador with the caveat that many believe the striking of a trade deal by 2021 is “unrealistic” often taking years to negotiate.

If the deal was not concluded by the end of 2020, there are two options: 1) extend the transition period or, 2) move to the backstop.

WHAT IS THE BACKSTOP? The ambassador did NOT elect to discuss this but negotiations between the UK and the EU have often focused on the complicated situation around the Northern Ireland (UK) and Eire (EU) border.

The backstop is essentially a safety net if there is no Brexit trade deal. It would avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and Eire and would see Britain remain in the custom’s union for as long as necessary until and alternative way of keeping the border open is found.

It would ensure that no tariffs, quotas, rules of origin or customs processes would be applied to EU-UK trade.

At the same time, the UK would be able to strike free trade arrangements with other countries. The Attorney General, Geoffrey Cox has been ordered to publish all the legal advice he has given to the UK Prime Minister, Theresa May. He has handed over a summary. It concluded that the proposed backstop would stop Britain making trade deals around the world in a separate legal document.

This means that if no superseding agreement can be reached within the implementation period, the protocol would be activated and in international law would subsist, even if negotiations broke down. Critics say it is a trap to keep the UK in the EU in all but name.

With any of these options under the deal scenario there is a fair degree of continuity and certainty for business and commerce.

DEAL NOT APPROVED If not approved by the House of Commons, the UK finds itself in a more uncertain and risky situation. There are different scenarios being discussed.

“One of the questions I get asked all the time here in Portugal is — ‘is there going to be a second referendum?’” said Sainty.

“A second referendum is not the policy of the British Government with the Prime Minister saying clearly and publicly that she would not support under any circumstances a second referendum.”

“I worry because no deal is not a choice, no deal is a default of what happens if we get to the 29 March and government and parliament have not succeeded in putting in place some alternative deal or solution,” the Ambassador asserted.

Although there is a small group of Conservatives who want a no deal scenario, the majority in parliament, business and society think that no deal is the worst possible outcome but is not a scenario that can be discarded.

“It would be a bad outcome for the UK, for our European partners and for business all over Europe” concluded the ambassador.

Text and Photo:
Essential Business

Chris Barton Portrait

The British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce – remaining relevant in a world of technological change

Chris Barton

Digital technology is changing business and the way it is conducted at such a hallucinating pace that it is no mean feat for trade organisations and chambers of commerce to remain relevant to its members.

When potential members beg the question “How can you help us?” a chamber of commerce needs to offer a pretty good raft of products and services that differentiate it from the rest and bring value-added to their businesses.

That need to innovate and keep relevant has led to constant evolution regarding how the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce rethinks and adapts its offer to keep pace with market change in order to entice more businesses, organisations and professionals to join.

Chris Barton, CEO of the BPCC says that “technology impacts on every business” and has revolutionised many of the traditional businesses.

“Sustained success means remaining informed, keeping pace and not being complacent, while having access to the most insightful business gurus and influential trend-setters is crucial.” explains Chris Barton of a Chamber that has been in existence for over 100 years in Portugal, helping Portuguese businesses set up in the UK and British business to flourish in Portugal.

Networking cocktails popular in the Algarve
The benefits of membership mean different things to different members in different parts of Portugal. In the Algarve, for example, networking is highly prized. “Our monthly networking cocktails attract 60-120 people as the typical Algarve based member finds this format particularly appealing. Experience shows that we have a fairly even split between Portuguese nationals and foreigners” says Chris Barton.

“Many of the Algarve members are typically companies with fewer than 12 employees and membership numbers have steadily increased with the BPCC being the most successful and well-known chamber of commerce in that region — the only one with a dedicated regional representative.

The Brexit effect
Chris Barton says there remains frustration and concern from Portuguese and British expatriates alike. Two years on from the referendum and there are still many unanswered questions which leaves people feeling insecure. However, there is some comfort in the notion that the Portuguese have been compatible and harmonious friends for hundreds of years, long before either of us were in the EU, so there is expectation that at least our two countries will find a peaceful way of preserving our mutual respect and buoyant bilateral trade.

One negative consequence which has already been evident is that some Portuguese companies have been a little more reluctant to exhibit at trade shows in the UK which impacts on one of our more important sources of income.” Conversely, we have seen an upturn of companies regarding the upheaval relating to Brexit as providing new opportunities. Entrepreneurs are often opportunistic by nature, so disruption is an environment in which they can thrive.

The bottom line
“Although making a profit is crucial for a company’s long-term welfare, businesses have become increasingly conscious that the “bottom line” isn’t the only KPI worthy of monitoring. Preserving reputation, pride in being a diverse employer and contributing to protecting the environment, all have new significance. The membership strives to be an integral part of the local community so that we can add value to the economic, social and cultural environment in Portugal”

The BPCC is renowned for the quantity and diversity of the events it offers its members – some of which are by invitation only and therefore perceived as being very exclusive. A popular format, particularly amongst the Lisbon based members, is the ‘brain-storming think-tank lunches’ where between 12-20 people are carefully selected to exchange experiences and opinions around a common theme. Recent themes have included “the role of reputable international schools for attracting foreign families to settle in Portugal”; “Moving towards a cashless society – what impact will the increasingly discussed phenomenon of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies have on mainstream businesses?”, “Defining your value proposition – and how to implement it” and “Ladies of Influence”.

By delivering on its own unique value proposition, the BPCC can support in delivering those of its members, while association with the Chamber facilitates positioning within a specific and clearly defined business interest group. This can help align members themselves with potential clients and differentiate themselves from their competitors.

United through shared values and common interests
Furthermore, members’ valuable contributions towards the Chamber’s communal objectives can help substantiate the member’s own values.

“Irrespective of the area of commercial activity, people need people and human interaction through knowledge sharing and close collaboration bring about best practices for the common good of the wider business community” says Chris Barton.

“History has shown that nobody can survive alone and that “we are stronger together”, so by a small act of Corporate Social Responsibility, such as becoming a chamber member, an enterprise can contribute and benefit from the association’s collective talents and strengths.

The BPCC provides a forum for well-established corporations, right through to those leading edge, ground-breaking start-ups currently disrupting the status quo, and all have a rightful place as part of the Chamber’s bigger picture.

One of the BPCC’s strengths is that it has a regular influx of new members offering fresh perspectives to tap into, while The nomenclature of “Chamber of Commerce” is an internationally recognised brand which means it is at the forefront of companies’ minds when it comes to looking for trustworthy sources of business intelligence, and members benefit from being part of this credibility.

The companies which benefit most from being a Chamber member are those which are able to participate in the activities which we offer, identify the opportunities which inevitable arise, then be proactive in taking the appropriate actions. “We provide the opportunities; Members are encouraged to capitalise on the opportunities presented.”

Beyond networking many Members recognise the value of marketing opportunities by broadcasting their achievements in our newsletters, advertising on our website or annual directory, or sponsoring one of our many events.

Portuguese manufacturers and exporters wishing to break into the UK market use the Chamber’s “Commercial Introduction Service” where we conduct a thorough market research, identify potential clients or distributors, and arrange one-to-one meetings with the companies short-listed by our client. Trade shows which have proven to be popular with Portuguese exhibitors in recent years have included the construction sector, food & drink, hotel furnishing, fashion & textiles, interior design, gym and spa equipment and furnishings.

The Chamber measures its own success by the feedback we receive from our clients, and judging from the steady flow of rave testimonials the British-Portuguese Chamber of Commerce remains as relevant today as it ever was.

Text and Photo
Essential Business