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It’s still all about the standards – 40 years of GS1 UK

Date: December 02, 2016

Author: Gary Lynch

Gary Lynch CEO GS1 UK At our 40th AGM our CEO, Gary Lynch, looked back in history, and confirmed that standards are as relevant now as they have always been

Our 40th Annual General Meeting was a fantastic event – full of networking opportunities and inspiring presentations. I had the great pleasure of presenting to our members how we’re growing our community, tackling challenges in our key industries – retail and healthcare – and of course how we’re committed to setting new standards. We’ve been supporting our members and driving industry change for 40 years – and we’re looking forward to the next 40.

Of course, last year we reached an important milestone – we hit 30,000 members! When I joined the organisation nearly 14 years ago we had just under 14,000 members. We’ve come a long way since then. You can see just how far on our new timeline – from the first barcode that was drawn on a beach, right through to today’s omnichannel retail world.

But of course we can’t just look back on our history. It’s essential that we always look at how we work with our members to continue supporting them in today’s complex digital world. For the last 40 years, we’ve had a Supervisory Board. Originally this was 100% retail focused, but over the last few years we’ve entered new sectors. Which is why now we have three new industry advisory boards – in retail grocery, apparel and healthcare – to focus specifically on the needs of each sector.

Each advisory board brings together business and thought leaders, policy makers and opinion formers to help us understand industry dynamics and their requirements. And as an organisation that looks after multiple sectors, it’s our close work with these industry leaders, around a table, that’s helping us drive out our standards to new companies.

But of course we never forget that it’s all about the standards. For example, on online marketplaces, one of our fastest growing sectors, the focus is on improving how we find, how we compare and how we buy products online. Online sellers need a better understanding of what exactly is on their product catalogues, while consumers want to know that when they click and buy something, they will get exactly what they’ve ordered. To ensure this happens, that’s where our standards come in – as the only way to successfully do this is to uniquely identify each item. And then GS1 SmartSearch helps online businesses provide more relevant search results by embedding the right standardised data into the right areas – which ultimately leads to more sales.

Overall, it’s been another strong year with GS1 standards being increasingly used in new industries – like online marketplaces and apparel. Because it is indeed all about the standards.

Presenting Andrew Osborne with his lifetime membership award from GS1 UK along with Jim Spittle

On a personal note, it gave me great pleasure to present our recently retired colleague Andrew Osborne his lifetime membership award. Andrew has been at GS1 UK, or its predecessors, for the full 40 years we celebrated. His unique contribution to our history cannot be overstated and he’ll be missed by everyone in the organisation. Thank you for everything you have done Andrew.

And on a final note, I was pleased to hand over another cheque for £4,000 to our partner charity, the Silver Line. And we raised even more money on the night. Thank you to everyone who helped us raise over £9,000 in total this year to help support older people with the effects of loneliness.


Andrew Osborne – barcoding Britain since 1976

We’ve raised another £4,000 for our partner charity – the Silver Line

Winners of our 2nd GS1 UK champion awards are announced