‘Yorkshire bosses must display resilience to weather the storm’

IoD regional chairman Jon Geldart
IoD regional chairman Jon Geldart
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BOSSES at Yorkshire’s leading companies have been urged to display resilience “to weather the storm that is coming” by a leading business figure.

Jon Geldart, the regional chairman of the Institute of Directors, told the audience at the IoD North Yorkshire annual dinner that the global economy was going to see enormous change over the next few months.

But Mr Geldart told the audience at Rudding Park near Harrogate: “We’re very good at resilience in Yorkshire. We’ve suffered for many years the slings and arrows of adversity that have been thrown at this county.

“We’ve also suffered more recently from the rail system.”

He stressed that Yorkshire was interconnected with the wider world.

Mr Geldart said: “We can’t avoid the fact that investors are looking at this part of the world as much as they are looking elsewhere. The Chinese are still interested in investing in the UK as are other

countries. They are interested in getting deals.”

He said: “It’s about knowing what you stand for, and standing for it in an enduring way.”

Mr Geldart said all the leaders must ask a fundamental question: “What is going to stand out and make you different, and continue to make you different, over this troubled time?

“It’s something about the enduring spirit that we see in business here in Yorkshire. It’s what people stand for and how they operate with their people, how they spend time with their people, because they are the most important part of the business.

“It’s very important that we continue to be resilient and we continue to think about how we stand out and how we are going to weather the storm that is coming.

“The IOD is here to help you. This organisation can make a difference. “

A survey of 1,200 business leaders carried out by the IOD indicated there was little faith that politicians could put aside their differences and come up with a Brexit withdrawal agreement that would bring the country together.

When asked about preferences for the next steps, nearly 80 per cent of company directors rejected the option of no deal.

This tallied with previous IoD polling from November which showed two-thirds (66 per cent) of members thought no deal would have a negative impact on their business.

There was no majority for a single course of action, with 45 per cent of members opting for some form of referendum to break the impasse, while 29 per cent said they would prefer to see the Withdrawal Agreement changed so it can secure parliamentary support.

A General Election was the least favoured potential next step. It was only chosen by 2 per cent of business leaders.

Commenting on the survey’s findings, Stephen Martin, Director General of the Institute of Directors, said: “At this moment of national crisis, the ability to put what really matters first seems to have abandoned us. It feels like we are being drawn involuntarily towards no deal like a moth to a flame, knowing we will be burnt but seemingly unable to stop it.”

YORKSHIRE must release investment from the public and private sectors to help the region achieve its potential, according to Natalie Sykes, regional director of the Institute of Directors.

She told the dinner: “It was only a year ago I voiced my frustration with the lack of progress towards devolution in Yorkshire.

“We have some success – Sheffield City Region has received a mayor and devolved powers, which have in turn created another kind of deadlock.”