Channel 4 move could be ‘beacon of light’ for region

Channel 4’s move to Leeds could be "a beacon of light" for the Leeds City Region, according to KPMG as the group published annual results.

Euan West, office senior partner for KPMG in Yorkshire

The big four accountancy firm said Channel 4’s recent move to the city will increase the number of creative jobs in the region.

The comments came as KPMG UK reported a resilient performance in 2020, despite Covid-19 challenges.

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Euan West, office senior partner for KPMG in Yorkshire, said: “2020 was a year no one will ever forget. For us, it wasn’t how we envisaged our 150-year anniversary and, like so many businesses, the biggest shift – and opportunity – lay in mobilising and empowering our teams in a totally new way of working.

“Combining both of those things, our Yorkshire colleagues have adapted well to working from home, servicing clients whatever their needs have been and standing shoulder to shoulder with them."

He said an additional investment of £44m in 2021 will build on these foundations and will make sure KPMG staff are well equipped to work flexibly and give it access to a more diverse workforce across a wider range of locations.

“Looking to the year ahead, against the backdrop of a fast-moving news cycle, there is already so much to be aware of," he said.

"There is of course the ongoing effect of coronavirus to contend with. The retail, hospitality and leisure sectors are some of Yorkshire’s biggest employers so there needs to be conversations around re-deploying the skills of those who may find themselves impacted.

“A beacon of light on the horizon for Leeds City Region, however, could be the ongoing impact of Channel 4’s recent move to the city, with growth in creative jobs and hopefully an influx of design and media businesses."

He said the tech scene in Leeds continues to evolve and expand, and Humberside has been building its credentials around green energy and hydrogen development.

"Further south, the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District in Sheffield has proven to attract some of the world’s leading brands, and there’s no reason to doubt that this will continue," he added.

“Finally, the Leeds City Region is due to go through its first metropolitan mayoral election later this year. We saw the impact that powers devolved to Northern cities can have in Manchester, Liverpool, and Sheffield during the lockdown negotiations and the role city region mayors can play in representing businesses’ interests and the communities they serve.

"We will eagerly wait to see what change that combined authority will bring about in terms of unlocking potential and accelerating sustainable growth.”

Despite the pandemic’s impact on seven months of the firm’s financial year, revenue fell by just 4 per cent from £2.4bn to £2.3bn in the year to September 30.

The fall was partly driven by the sale of the firm’s pensions business, which completed last March. Excluding the disposal of the pensions business, like-for-like revenue fell 2 per cent.

Underlying profit fell 6 per cent year on year to £288m, due to the impact of the pandemic on the second half of the financial year.