Welcome to the 2020 FIS ‘Virtual’ AGM and conference. This is certainly a novel format and I very much hope one of a kind.

2020 has been a year of nightmare scenarios. When I addressed you last year none of us could have predicted the sinister turn that life would take. My business plans, just like yours, are in the bin and I have had to re-evaluate my aspirations for the future.

It was amongst this mayhem that the value of the FIS really crystallised. The whole team ‘stepped up’, took on the challenge and in a matter of weeks produced the Covid-19 Hub. This provided guidance on the maze of procedures that left us confused and anxious. It provided the Risk Management Toolkit and the H&S Taskforce, a group that sprang up overnight and supported by members, provided crucial guidance on site procedures.

There were daily mailshots, twice weekly webinars and most importantly of all, a friendly voice at the end of the phone when you needed moral support and one that could carry our concerns into the wider industry and economic debate – straight to the Construction Leadership Council, Civil Servants and Ministers.

The board also did their bit with weekly meetings and offers of support to members who needed it, I have never been prouder to be a part of that team.  I have also never been prouder to be part of our industry, which has demonstrated incredible resilience, whether building Nightingale hospitals or simply holding our end up in keeping at least some of the economic lights switched on.

I know what it’s like to be a small business owner, swimming in a sea of regulations. I know what it’s like to not be able to afford expensive consultants or accountants to give me regulatory or financial advice. I know what it’s like to sometimes make decisions that I don’t feel qualified to make and bear the responsibility for that. Here’s an amazing statistic for you, nearly 60% of our contractor members turn over less than £5m and in fact only 17% turnover more than £10m and we never forget that statistic. You, like me, need the advice, technical guidance and moral support more than anyone and once again FIS membership pays dividends.  It is these companies that we are targeting our new Business Risk Management Tool that is now available to download from our website.

As well as helping with the day to day, FIS keeps an eye on our future.  The Building Safety Bill will have enormous repercussions for our sector. In response Joe Cilia has collaborated with other leading bodies to produce the guide to ‘Firestopping of Service Penetrations’, a guide that gets to the heart of safety issues in our sector. Another well received publication was the ‘Safe Ingress of Plasterboard’, essential for the prevention of Musculoskeletal disorders so prevalent in our sector.

The training team, hit badly by the withdrawal of CITB funding, has under new leadership in George Swann been working to find ways to continue resourcing the leading work that we have been delivering through the Fit-Out Futures program and set a more standard framework for competence through our sector.  Again vital work.

So we move into the formal part of the day today, the AGM, I hope you have felt the benefit of being part of this amazing community.  At the heart of this, Jane Knight, our Operations Director, who last week celebrated 30 years at the FIS.  This is quite a landmark, congratulations Jane and thank-you for your immense contribution to FIS.

What will 2021 look like. That is our focus for today, building a phoenix from the flames of a pandemic. In January we have Brexit and the repercussions for labour shortages and product certification, The Building Safety Bill, Reverse Charge VAT and that’s just the first quarter. Our headline topics cover some of the biggest issues and discuss how we foster healthy relationships in our supply chain, replace mistrust and combat with cooperation and collaboration and give our sector the best chance of succeeding, with of course the FIS backing us up.   Because above all else,


Members can read the minutes of the 2020 Annual General Meeting here.