Chaired by Gareth Lewis, business Editor of the Southern Daily Echo, a lively round table discussion hosted by Wilkins Kennedy, prompted some up-beat general opinions and attitudes about business in our area.
Among those present were two business bankers, the Employment Partner of a leading Hampshire based solicitors, as well as four successful senior business executives. It was agreed, on this occasion, that all the conversations would be treated as being ‘off the record’. Therefore the following is a general summary of the prevailing views and feelings.
Whilst it was agreed there has been a distinct slowing down of activity over the past year or so, this is now starting to change. The general consensus was that the economic downturn in the South of England was not as severe as in some other regions. This was due, it was felt, to the types of businesses in this area, which include a high proportion of high-tech manufacturers, defence related operations, and maritime industries.
Whilst one of the bank representatives maintained that lending levels and loan availability were as good as ever, the experience of one of the other guests contradicted this. Having tried unsuccessfully to obtain a business loan, following three years of successful trading without an overdraft, the very same bank had actually refused a loan on three occasions! A private conversation was planned to follow the meeting!
There was also general agreement, that it is difficult to speculate about speculation. At the time of the discussion, very little detail about government cuts had actually been published. It was agreed however that future savings were more likely to be made by reducing or eliminating unnecessary administration in Government departments and quangos.
An important point was made, that that some people from the public sector, finding themselves redundant would experience difficulty adapting to working in a commercial environment. This is due to the working style and attitudes that pervade much of the civil service and local government services.
As for the future, nearly everyone expressed an optimistic view. There may be a need to do things differently and also to adapt operations to cope with whatever conditions or circumstances we find ourselves. It remains more important than ever for all sizes of company to communicate what they are doing, not only to their future customers but more especially to their current ones.