EDITOR INTERVIEW In conversation with... David Hopkinson, newly elected UKLA President for 2018/2019; CEO Multisol

Congratulations on your appointment as UKLA President. Your term comes at a challenging time. What are the most pressing obstacles our industry faces in the coming year? There are many challenges facing the UK Lubricants industry across Europe, but clearly, at the moment, Brexit swamps everything. And yes, this is going to be a challenging 12 months. Maintaining easy trading relationships with the EU27 (and globally) is critical; for UK companies, retaining future EU market share is a real concern for both suppliers and customers.

Companies need predictability, so a year (or 21 months) of transition or ‘temporary certainty’ allows businesses time to put practical things in place. Bigger players may be geared up for the changes, smaller organisations may need the extra time to make adjustments. For regulators/policy makers, this period is an opportunity to provide greater clarity.

In terms of UKLA members, most UK companies already export to the EU and will continue to do so; remember the UK has always been a trading nation. This is not going to change. We may have to trade under new rules and regulations, but we will adjust and get used to it.

How will UKLA’s role develop in the post-Brexit landscape? How can we leverage our position? It’s a challenge given the current political and economic agenda. With a population more sceptical than ever towards industries such as ours, how do we get their attention? Is our voice strong enough? We are the second largest lubricants industry in Europe, at a similar level to France, so we are a really important European market. The only way to continue to have any practical influence and maintain an effective voice, is as part of UEIL. Remember that Canada and Turkey are not in the EU but are UEIL members. The UKLA intends to continue to play a leading role in UEIL, and UEIL welcomes that.


As an Association, our role is to communicate with our member partners, to help them find ways to be successful. We have to prioritise and be very focused on our message, promoting the benefits of being a UKLA member. I would like to see more engagement by UKLA members through social media with end users and through other communications channels, eg with local MPs/policy makers/industry regulators. This is vital for our future.

How did you come into the industry? I joined Exxon 33 years ago with a management degree. Eight years later I moved into lubricants through a variety of roles: industrial relations, logistics, sales, planning, supply, etc. I moved from being Passenger Vehicle Lubricants Manager UKI to Comma, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, as CEO, and stayed on after Comma was acquired by Cosan. I moved to Multisol as CEO in 2015; it’s been really helpful to have worked in a wide variety of roles within the downstream oil business.

From your informed position, how does the future look for lubricants? The world literally relies on lubricants to move, yet we are seen as a polluting industry. But lubricants make a huge contribution to energy efficiency (and other benefits) across so many industries: foods, autos, pharma, marine, aeronautical, manufacturing, etc. Given the improved fuel efficiency and potential economy savings (even at just 2% to 5%) offered by our industry, we provide an enormous benefit to the planet.

We face many global challenges ahead, not least sustainability and e-mobility. With the hybrid likely to be the predominant technology of the future car parc, and given hybrids need lubricants, the future for lubricants looks different but bright.


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