Trade delegation heads to Kirklees

A trade delegation from India is due to arrive in Yorkshire tomorrow to take part in a conference which aims to bring jobs and investment to the county’s textile heartland.

Kirklees Business Week started yesterday with a wide ranging debate which banged the drum for the quality of firms in the Huddersfield area, as well as highlighting frustrations caused by issues such as slow broadband.

The Masters of Growth panel, which included serial entrepreneur Graham Leslie, Sean Jarvis, the commercial director of Huddersfield Town, Andy Hobson, the managing director of Fantastic Media and Sue Cooke, the head of skills and employment at the Leeds City Region local enterprise partnership, provided the 100-strong audience with tips for building strong businesses.

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Tomorrow a group of delegates from India will visit the International Trade Festival, which is being held at The John Smiths Stadium in Huddersfield as part of business week. Entrepreneur Ajaz Ahmed, the co-founder of Freeserve who has just been elected President of the Yorkshire Asian Business Association, hopes the delegates will take some investment ideas home with them.

During the event, BC Pradhan, the Acting Consulate General at the Indian High Commission will give a 20-minute presentation.

“YABA’s role is really to try and encourage investment between India and the UK,’’ said Mr Ahmed. “They’ve managed to get a delegation from India, which is fantastic for the region and local businesses involved in manufacturing.

“Everywhere you go in the world, people have heard of Yorkshire. We need to make more of the Yorkshire brand.

“I don’t think we do enough to shout about ourself. My daughter, who is studying at Huddersfield University, got herself a placement for a year working for Hardy Amies (the London-based fashion house).

“They noticed from her accent that she wasn’t from London and she told them she was from Huddersfield.

“And they said, ‘Our cloth still comes from Huddersfield.’

“We can’t sit back, because if you travel around the country, everyone is shouting about themselves. We’ve got to do the same. We’ve got to care.”

During the Masters of Growth Panel, which also included The Yorkshire Post’s deputy business editor Greg Wright, the speakers highlighted Huddersfield’s strong skills base and great location, which led Mr Leslie to describe the town as Britain’s “greatest little city”. The debate was hosted by Kirklees College.

Afterwards, Mr Leslie, who has been behind a number of businesses including Galpharm International, said Kirklees, which includes Dewsbury, Batley and Holmfirth, is blessed with a “diversity of skill sets and landscapes”.

It’s also home to some great businesses, he added.

“Those were created by real entrepreneurs who had a mindset of giving back to the community,’’ he said. “We also undersell ourselves phenomenally. There is regeneration, with massive investment going on with the skills and training of young people.”

Mr Jarvis said: “The debate was very varied and ranged from housing to how to tap into funds, to ecommerce, and superfast broadband. The main point that came out was the importance of collaboration. If we can encourage collaboration within our community then we can only be stronger.”

Ms Cooke said the LEP’s Business Growth Programme had supported more than 30 businesses with grants of under £100,000 in Kirklees, including Batley Foundry and MNS Textiles.

She added: “Textiles tends to be a highly specialised and sought after sector.”

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