Seb James

Seb James: ’Government and business need to listen to each other; working together to grow our economy’

Boots chief executive Seb James has endorsed the Labour Party and Sir Keir Starmer’s focus on the importance of looking after the high street.

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The UK’s largest health and beauty retailer’s boss has endorsed Labour by video at the party’s general election campaign launch. 

James, who has connections to Boris Johnson and David Cameron going as far back as their time in Eton College together, praised Sir Kier’s focus on the high street and its role in the national economy.

In a transcript of the video shared by Labour, Seb James mentioned the role of government in working with businesses to create employment.

He said: “Boots has 2,000 stores and pharmacies right across the country, and just over 50,000 team members.

“A stable economy provides the right platform for sustainable economic growth. And it’s that real focus on economic growth that is going to be so important in the next few years. The second thing is government and business really listening to each other and working together to grow our economy.

“We need an industrial strategy that helps us plan for the long term, helps us to anticipate changing landscapes, emerging sectors, new skills, new technologies.

“Another thing that I think is incredibly important is employment. Having a government that works with business to help get people up and down the country, in some of the most deprived areas of our great nation, into work, and keep them in work. That ranges from having apprenticeship schemes properly helping businesses to re-skilling mature workers.”

Building communities

Speaking on Labour’s efforts, James added: “Now I must mention something close to my heart: Keir came to one of our Boots stores earlier in the year and we talked about the importance of looking after our high streets.

“There is a Boots on almost every high street, but high streets are not just a place that people come to shop, it’s a place of work – in some small towns, the only place of work. It’s a place to meet, to connect, to get health advice from your pharmacist, it’s the heart of our towns, and a thriving high street helps to build communities.

“And I think that’s going to be a really important gamechanger in the next few years. We need to invest in it, connect it to our digital worlds and look after it.

“And finally, the cost of living – our customers are telling us that the pressures remain. We, of course, welcome these sensible fiscal measures to help put more money in people’s pockets and grow the economy, and that’s what I hope is going to happen.”