Reengineering the manufacturing and retail sector

In the current challenging economic and social scenario, keeping ahead of the curve is vital for any business.

With this in mind, The Malta Chamber as part of Enterprise Europe Network, spread across 65 countries around the world, will be organising a digital event entitled ‘Re-Engineering the Manufacturing & Retail sectors for the New Norm’ aimed at shedding light on how businesses within these two vital sectors for any economy, can re-vitalise their business models to thrive in the new norm.

The virtual event spread over four days between the 14th and 29th of April, will put together manufacturing, retail and technology companies with business experts, public bodies, corporate services providers, and academia to interact, meet and assist in the current recovery phase, towards realigning business activity, restructuring their operations, optimising the use of technology and identify new markets which embrace sustainable practices.

A purposely designed digital platform is now LIVE, hosting local and international profiles of buyers and sellers, creating a virtual marketplace within which business stakeholders can set up individual meetings, pitch their offers and requests and do collaborations.

If you fit within the target audience of this digital event, you can register your company profile right away, free of charge, by logging in here.

Over 65 participants from 13 countries already booked their space to meet, learn and engage with the support of Malta Chamber and its Enterprise Europe Member partners!

Grab this excellent opportunity of engaging with local and international business leaders and learning how disruption is shaping the industry from a stellar line-up of panelists during the various webinars that The Malta Chamber has lined up for you.

Learning from their insights on tangible and practical ways in which technology, sustainability, and talent were brought together to re-engineer business may be your concrete leap towards making your own business transformation a success.

MBB welcomes EU vision for digital transformation

The Malta Business Bureau welcomes the publication of the European Commission’s Communication, “2030 Digital Compass”. This sets out the EU’s vision for Europe’s digital transformation, and its ambition to be digitally sovereign in an open and interconnected world, supplementing the transition towards a climate neutral, circular and resilient economy by 2030.

The Communication proposes a set of digital principles, which include rapidly launching multi-country projects to achieve its aim, while laying the groundwork for legislation to set out a governance framework to monitor progress.

MBB CEO, Joe Tanti stated, “The key to ensuring digital autonomy is the sustaining of a robust and competitive European digital industry, built upon a Digital Single Market which allows for businesses to fully and easily provide goods and services across borders as though they were doing so in their own country of origin.”

The Commission’s Communication proposes several key ambitions. These include empowering 80% of adults to have at least basic digital skills, 90% of SMEs to digitise aspects of their day-to-day operation, and all key public services to be available online – all by the year 2030.

“Digital technologies have been crucial in ensuring business continuity throughout the COVID-19 crisis. They are clearly the future and will be the key factor in ensuring a successful transition to a forward looking, post-pandemic economy,” concluded Mr. Tanti.

HSBC Malta reopens Rabat Gozo branch

HSBC Malta will reopen its branch in Rabat, Gozo, on Friday 12 March 2021. The branch had closed temporarily on 26 February due to positive testing for Covid-19.

Crawford Prentice, Head of Wealth and Personal Banking at HSBC Malta, said: “Despite the challenging situation that we are all currently facing, HSBC Malta remains committed to providing essential branch services to its customers. In doing so, we will continue to ensure the highest possible safety standards to protect both our customers and our employees. Having taken all the necessary health and safety measures in line with the Health Authorities’ guidelines, we are now in a position to reopen the branch and we now look forward to welcoming our customers back to our Gozo branch from Friday 12 March.”

The Bank reminds customers that the majority of services can be availed of by using Credit & Debit Cards, Mobile, Internet, ATM and Deposit Machine services. The bank encourages customers to limit branch visits to essential matters only, at this time.

More information on HSBC Malta’s services is available on

BNF Bank launches new mobile banking app

BNF Bank announced the launch of an all-new Mobile Banking App designed to strengthen financial freedom. Aimed at leveraging the bank’s technology and expertise to deliver a comprehensive digital experience, the new app provides convenience and a streamlined user experience.

With fully secured biometric-based authentication, the app offers BNF users’ peace of mind for their everyday banking activity which allows them to bank digitally, comfortably and above all safely from any location and mobile device. The simple and intuitive user interface is designed to offer a multitude of functions. From balance enquiry, bill payments to quick transactions and easy scheduling of fund transfers, customers can also apply for products and services, manage their personal profile and much more.

The app which is available for free and can be easily downloaded on both Android and iOS devices from Google Play and App Store, follows and complements a successful upgraded interface of a refreshed and user interface responsive Internet Banking platform.

George Debono, Chief Commercial Officer at BNF Bank said that “the launch of our new mobile app developed to empower customers with digital solutions, marks the completion of the first phase of BNF’s strategic project focusing on new and improved electronic touchpoints for our personal and business customers. Over the past year we have upgraded our Internet Banking platform, improved our Credit and Debit Cards proposition all of which are now available contactless and have 3DSv2 security, improved ATM interface, 24Hr Live Chat Bot (BECS) and deployed the first deposit machines. We will continue to develop our digital proposition even further over the next months aimed at exceeding the expectations of our customers whilst ensuring that the interaction remains of the highest level for individuals and businesses whenever they choose the human touch with our front-line staff.”

Further information on the new BNF Mobile APP is available at You can chat with us through BECS our digital agent, through website or Facebook Messenger or send a secure message through Internet Banking. Alternatively, you can contact our Customer Care Team on (+356) 2260 1000.

The Malta Chamber of Commerce welcomes continued employment support… eager on New Economy initiatives

The Malta Chamber welcomes the extension of the existing wage supplement scheme for employees employed in businesses experiencing difficulties due to the Covid- 19 pandemic. The Chamber notes that the current scheme implemented in January of this year, which is based on loss of turnover, has now been extended until June and the Government also announced that the scheme will be extended further for the hardest-hit companies until the end of year.

Since its launch early last year, the scheme has safeguarded thousands of jobs and kept a number of businesses afloat, while working hard to recover lost business.

It is clear that this direct assistance is crucial at a time when a number of business operators are trying to survive the current impact. Furthermore, the Chamber also calls for an immediate focus on what Minister Dalli referred to as the “New Economy Initiatives”, which will be launched during the next weeks. The Chamber has held several discussions with Government and has recommended several measures linked to business re-engineering and incentivising and revitalising investment among other things.

The Chamber is therefore eager to understand what these initiatives will be focusing on and offers its assistance to Government to ensure that the business community remains competitive and resilient in the coming months and years.

MBB Presents EU Funding Report to Government

Earlier this month, business-representative entity the Malta Business Bureau (MBB) presented a report on the impact of EU funds on the Maltese economy and the opportunities and challenges that businesses face when applying for EU funds to Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds, Dr Stefan Zrinzo Azzoppardi. The report is entitled ‘Improving Access to EU Funds by Private Enterprise in the Programming Period 2021-2027.’

An MBB delegation–consisting of MBB President, Mr Simon De Cesare, Vice-President, Mr John Huber and CEO, Mr Joe Tanti–initiated the discussion with a presentation of the study objectives and findings.

Mr De Cesare stated, “The MBB undertook this study with multiple purposes in mind, firstly to bring to light issues so many companies face when trying to access EU funds, secondly to recommend ways to overcome those issues, and thirdly to kick-start a dialogue directly with businesses on this subject to demonstrate that EU funds may meet their financing needs under certain conditions.”

Mr De Cesare explained, “Our research shows that many of the companies that attempt to apply for funds succeed. EU funds have so much potential as a source of financing for companies, if only we can increase the participation rate.”

Dr Zrinzo Azzopardi held that, “together with these enterprises, thousands of employees and their families have benefitted from European funds.” From the presented report it resulted that more than 1,900 employment and 1,400 enterprises have benefitted from the European funded programme of the past 7 years.

On 17th March, the MBB is organising a webinar to present the report to the general public, and also give a platform to businesses to speak about their experiences with EU funding. More information about the event may be accessed here.

The Malta Business Bureau is the EU-business advisory office of The Malta Chamber and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. For more information about the report, please contact MBB Senior Advisor (Internal Market and Legal Affairs), Mark Seychell on

‘Strategic financial planning should be a priority for recovery & subsistence’ – Maria-Gabriele Doublesin

“The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a massive shake-up, generating increased levels of stress and anxiety. While we continue to deal with highly fluid probabilities, there are many businesses struggling to survive. This holds in particular for small businesses and the hospitality industry. How to measure this uncertainty to devise adequate strategies is, in my opinion, one of the biggest challenges,” says Maria-Gabriele Doublesin.

In her work as a consultant, when focusing on building strategies for a new normal, she notes that clients automatically compare their present situation with the past. By doing so, positive memories of success and wellbeing are automatically overemphasised while longstanding problematic areas remain underrated. This partial denial results in trying to stick out the crisis, with the maladaptive notion that all will be ‘back to business as usual’.

“Many are not thinking about what this really implies. Namely, that real change is needed. It is a huge challenge to accept that life as we knew it is no more,” says Ms Doublesin. “The global crisis has forced business owners to make choices they might never have made under normal circumstances.”

Ms Doublesin asserts that, for some businesses, particularly small family businesses, it is not unusual that challenges can be compounded by issues that arise during the transition period when the family business is handed over from the older to the younger generation.

“Not only can there be the day-to-day discussions that arise due to different modus operandi with other collaborating family members, but there are also issues with trusting in younger generations to manage the business, transferring responsibility and leadership from the senior to younger members. These issues are challenging at any time, let alone in times of this global crisis.”

The unique needs of every business means that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and Ms Doublesin tailors her business transformation services according to the individual circumstances of every business owner.

With a focus on workflow and customer dynamics, she designs solutions that target problems at the root. Shifting work from the office to the kitchen table, sharing the workspace with family members, and children needing to study or to do their homework has caused a considerable disruption in workflow, she notes.

“With regards to workflow, the client and I work together to understand where the issues lie – is it productivity workflow, process workflow or project workflow? Seeing how workflow has been disrupted over the past year, I help clients assess the current situation and develop a systemic plan to improve and optimise their processes.”

Together, they also look into how a company’s business strategy is tied into the workflow design and work out how an employer can help its team collaborate better to meet the required needs. “In our workshops, we use methods and tools that also explore ways to inspire creativity in members of staff, not through trial and error but tailor-made, targeted techniques.”

As for her work in the field of customer dynamics, Ms Doublesin asserts that the exchange of information and transactions between businesses and customers is constant, and across a wide range of communication channels. “Our work in customer dynamics looks at the customer relationship from an interpersonal viewpoint – that is, understanding the needs of the customer. Businesses not only need to understand the persona of their clients in optimal conditions, but also in times of crisis. And here is where a challenge can turn into a huge opportunity.”

Creating a business strategy in the best of times for the year ahead is a challenging exercise, but this year, it seems like an almost impossible task. Sharing her thoughts on how businesses could plan and set goals for 2021, Ms Doublesin agrees that the disruptions to operations and revenues, alongside higher operating costs are creating cashflow challenges for businesses, which hinders progress and thus, innovation.

“Therefore, strategic financial planning should be the top priority for recovery and subsistence. Evaluate short-term liquidity, create a contingency plan and review loan constructs, pursue debt modifications and loan covenants if needed, and if you have a cushion in your line of credit, take it,” she asserts. “One needs to look at all their resources, and subsequently, be vigilant of the impacts on budgets and business plans. Once the strategies are strengthened through contingency review, then new directions need to be communicated with relevant stakeholders.”

Ms Doublesin adds it is common practice in local culture not to talk openly about problems and to sweep them under the carpet instead, leaving stakeholders clueless, but a shift in behaviour and attitude is needed, because a lack of transparency can be counter-productive. “We need to learn to address issues head on, which again means a change in crisis management mind-set. This might also mean reviewing your communication strategies.”

While executing revised plans, it is crucial for businesses to constantly monitor what continues to be a fluid situation and accept that plans need to be adjusted, she continues, stressing the importance of agility when building a new strategy, allowing for revisions to be done in the short term.

“The situation of a business leader right now is very much like being in a hot air balloon, whose movements depend on the conditions of the streams of air in the atmosphere and the wind. To move the balloon into a desired direction, one must know the winds, and know when to throw off ballast and when to increase the flame. Similarly, monitoring our fluid situation is essential to know when and how to rise above a problem.”

Ms Doublesin also highlights the benefits of cross-sector collaboration, a subject she is passionate about and was the crux of a project she developed in 2019 for CORE platform, called Learn to Work Together.

“What I observed is that everybody operates in silos and, in our current context, doing this is very risky. Constant changes in technology, globalisation and the supply chain, among others, are creating huge shifts in the business world, and one cannot have all the skills needed to handle every situation,” she asserts.

She recommends for business leaders to carry out an exercise called boundary spanning. “Cross-sector collaboration requires you to firstly identify your strengths, what you can and cannot do, and how you can collaborate across your sector with someone who is an expert in an area that you are not. Banding together is extremely important to bridge skills gaps, to enhance, increase and improve productivity levels.”

The research component of her project ‘Learn to work together’ in combination with the outcome of the project’s consultative roundtable revealed that businesses in Malta hardly cross-collaborate, neither with voluntary organisations nor with other businesses, and when they do, it’s only for the purpose of a one-off project. “Based on the findings of the research, I devised a training programme that focused on understanding inclusive processes and devising inclusive structures for a new style of leadership and teamwork, which is precisely what we need right now.”

Choose to Challenge

In celebrating this year’s International Women’s Day, The Malta Chamber is honoured, proud and privileged to be presenting to its members, the most diverse selection of strong candidates for its upcoming Council elections, in its long history. In fact, a third of its candidates are women who have risen to the occasion, appreciated and embraced the gender-neutral space and motivation that the Chamber of Commerce is offering to its wider community.

Perit David Xuereb, President of The Malta Chamber said, “As Malta’s foremost business representative body, we are incredibly delighted that women in all areas of its membership have pursued on taking leading and significant roles within the Malta Chamber of Commerce during the last two years.”

“The Malta Chamber has been a consistent advocate for equality at the place of work while encouraging women to take on important and significant roles of leadership within the business community. This is strongly aligned with this year’s International Women’s Day motto: Choose to Challenge. Only by constantly challenging ourselves can we hope to bring forward a positive wave of energy and change in respect of meaningful gender equality in all aspects of life,” expressed Perit Xuereb.

As the Malta Chamber prepares itself for a rejuvenated and refreshed composition through a metamorphosis of its highest institution, this biannual Annual General Meeting of the Malta Chamber of Commerce will prove to be yet another significant milestone in the organization’s history.

“Let this be a celebration of our drive for an equitable and appreciative society, where diversity is strength, inclusion is natural and where talent is appreciated. I have no doubt that The Chamber will continue to grow as a leader in our society” concluded Perit Xuereb.

Discrimination against Private and Church Care Home Operators

Over the past months, both the public and the private sector had been calling on the Government to take the shortage of nurses seriously, even more so recently, since the UK was poaching foreign nurses working in Malta.

The Care Home Operators within The Malta Chamber proposed, among other recommendations, the reduction in bureaucracy being met with, when applying for work permits through Identity Malta. The duration of the permit, the substantial cost for renewals and the problems encountered when bringing their spouses and children to join them locally, were amongst the reasons several had decided to leave Malta, creating a huge problem in hospitals, clinics and care homes amongst others.

Today’s decision reached between the Government and the Union of Nurses is welcomed, however, the decision to allow only those employed in the public sector to benefit from such decisions is unjust. The shortage of nurses and care health workers is felt by everyone and the fact that the public sector is favoured and classified as more important than the private sector is unacceptable.

The Government is being reminded that the same private sector alleviates the burden to the State when offering its services to the population, and many operators are also providing their service to the Government. Removing red tape in support of the public sector alone is unwarranted and will only result in foreign health care workers seeking employment within the Public Health System compounding the problem further for the private sector.

Anything but an equal playing field is not acceptable. The Government is therefore being asked to reconsider its decision and offer the same terms and conditions on work permit duration, costs and applications irrelevant if one is employed in the public or the private sector.