In view of the vital and essential part which the trade of this country must necessarily play in the winning of the war and in safeguarding the peace, it is comforting to know that at last it is beginning to be realised in official quarters that the only way to resuscitate trade and provide a substantial proportion of exports in payment of indispensable imports is to remove restrictions and barriers and to allow trade its natural freedom as far as possible. The lamentable lack of foresight and the inefficiency shown, immediately following the outbreak of war, in imposing pools and controls in all kinds of trades, has already been responsible for the loss of vast sums of money by the commercial interests of the country, and the time has come when experimental hindrances of this kind must be resisted. A special correspondent of The Times, in an excellent article referring to the pooling system, observes that the disappearance of a trade name from shops and hoardings may not strike the ordinary man as really important. But the manufacturer who produces and advertises branded goods guarantees in effect that consumers are supplied with goods of a recognised quality and at a fixed price. To the maker pooling means the loss of whatever goodwill is vested in his name or trade‐mark, to establish which in public favour may have cost him many years of effort and a large investment. The goodwill of British industry and trade is in large measure the sum of goodwill earned by hundreds of separate commodities. The absorption of branded goods in a common pool confronts business men with a problem which they should examine here and now in preparation for the day when trade reverts to its function of satisfying the needs of people living at peace. The problem is to maintain their goodwill in the interval. Much the same difficulties will have to be met by other firms—and possibly by whole industries—which, though their products are not pooled, have turned over from fulfilling peace‐time demands to direct participation in the national war effort. There are clothing manufacturers whose output is needed for the Services. Some businesses find their occupation gone because their raw material—it may be timber—is not now freely available. The production of electricity and gas is restricted by rationing. As the Government ould not look with favour on campaigns to increase sales of gas or electricity, the industries which supply them cannot very well advertise in the ordinary way. But what, then, is to become of “Mr. Therm,” who has been built up so skilfully and at some considerable cost as a model public servant? Publicity seems to be the answer to this problem of keeping goodwill alive. The managing director of a leading motor manufacturing company has made it known that that is the policy which his firm intend to follow while they are exclusively occupied in building aero engines. They will keep their name before the public by advertising, and they believe all makers of British cars should do the same, whether they are at present turning out private cars or not. Advertising is included among the legitimate and, indeed, essential activities classed as business development work, and is allowed as a trade expense before profits are calculated for taxation. It would be well for firms to think carefully before letting all their normal expenditure on business development lapse in war‐time. Ordinary trade has a vital part to play in the war, if only because it is out of profits alone that the revenues needed for fighting can be found. Though the times are difficult, new opportunities and markets will present themselves. Markets hitherto served by Germany are to‐day open to the British manufacturer, if the requisite arrangements for export can be made. At home, with the life of the people going on, new habits are forming, and with them new requirements. The trader who puts forth his best efforts during war‐time is helping his country, not hampering it. It is for the Government to ease his way by removing needless obstructions to normal trade; it is for business men themselves to face their problems with initiative and energy.
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