A double-dip recession is to descend on Britain before the end of the year.

That’s the gloomy prediction from the crystal balls of the south’s business leaders at the fifth Wilkins Kennedy round table, who were discussing the economic environment the region faces in 2011.

A large majority agreed that a toxic trio of banks’ reluctance to lend, the scale of crown debt weighing down balance sheets of firms across the region and hefty public sector cuts meant a return to recession was almost inevitable this year.

Speakers also poured cold water on government claims the private sector would create enough jobs to absorb the public sector losses, forecasting instead a sharp contraction in employment.

There was also unease around inflation, with the arrival of £1.50 a litre diesel predicted in the coming months contributing to a hike in interest rates towards the end of the year or the start of 2012.

Meanwhile, small firms are facing ever lengthening payment delays, with one business reporting 120 days as commonplace.

But amongst the cheery pessimism, there was also a glimmer optimism from the group as all agreed that there were opportunities out there, not least in the digital sector, where strong growth was expected. However, they tended to be smaller and firms had to fight harder to secure them.

Well run companies that focused on their fundamentals, understood their markets and exploited niche opportunities were best placed to prosper in 2011.

As delegates hesitantly put a three to four-year timescale on the recovery, it was remarked that any business that did survive the long haul would find themselves in an incredibly strong position for the future.


  • Gareth Lewis, Director, Polymedia
  • Keith Stevens, Partner, Wilkins Kennedy
  • John Kirkpatrick, Partner, Wilkins Kennedy
  • Judith Wade Duffy, JWD Associates
  • David Hourihan, Commercial Director, Hourihan & Hourihan Property Consultants
  • Grant Harrison, Chairman, IoD Hampshire & the Isle of Wight
  • Samantha Clough, White Communications Group
  • Paul Morgan, Managing Director, Warrens Office
  • Nick Lee, Managing Director, LPC Printing
  • Jason Tuck, Sales Manager, Newsquest

For details of the next Round Table or to attend, contact Claire Peers on claire.peers@wilkinskennedy.com