In the Viewpoint column of PBM’s July/August edition, editor Paul Davies ponders our capacity to look backwards rather than facing up to the challenges of the day…
Nostalgia is big business. The follow-up to 1986’s Top Gun is breaking box office records whilst the Obi-Wan Kenobi series on Disney+, which sees Ewan McGregor pick up his lightsaber after a gap of nearly 20 years and continues the legacy of the now 45 year old Star Wars saga, is said to be delivering the biggest-ever audience for the streaming platform. Paul McCartney is even one of the headline acts at this year’s Glastonbury Festival…
Remakes and reboots dominate the multiplexes and the small screen, whilst collaborations with the legendary stars of yesteryear is a sure fire way to ensure chart success. Is this simply a lack of imagination within our supposedly creative industries or more that, in turbulent times, we yearn for something that feels safer and more familiar?
And whilst the current retro boom is hardly a novelty (looking back with a misty-eyed whimsy has doubtless been a human trait since just after the dawn of civilisation), it is perhaps all the more understandable given that these are exceptionally turbulent times indeed.
“Just as resisting change is a fool’s errand, so too is failing to consider the successes of the past.”
In little over a decade, from the global financial crash to the global pandemic, the world has been transformed. Throw in the Brexit referendum for a particularly British revolution — itself fuelled, in part at least, by the notion of a glorious past — to the desperate situation in Ukraine and a growing cost of living crisis, and little wonder that harking back to the ‘good old days’ provides such comfort amidst the turmoil.
However, as the saying goes, time and tide waits for no man. There is no alternative but to react to the circumstances as they present themselves, and it is heartening to reflect on the fact that a capacity to adapt is one of the defining characteristics of the merchant sector.
We have discussed at great length the ways in which it responded to the challenges of the pandemic, and the industry now increasingly finds itself at the vanguard of both a sustainable and technological transformation as decarbonisation and digitisation become perhaps the twin totems of modern construction supply chains.
Yet just as resisting change is a fool’s errand, so too is failing to consider the successes of the past. We often discuss the need to encourage new talent into the sector, but perhaps tend to overlook the expertise that so typifies it today. To navigate both the present challenges and develop the leaders of the future, it is imperative that this knowledge and experience is championed.
Accordingly, it is fantastic to hear about the Institute of Builders Merchants’ new Mentoring Platform (or see page 22 in the digital issue) which aims to connect rising stars with more senior voices for the long-term betterment of the industry as a whole.
We may be in the midst of a period of seismic change, affecting the world in all manner of different ways, and the sector itself is experiencing numerous threats and challenges. Moving with the times is, of course, essential but its core values of delivering superior customer service will never go out of fashion.