Both main speakers at this year’s annual dinner in Bradford proclaimed how the city and one of, if not the most important employer to the District is turning itself around.
Bradford Chamber President Andy Caton, of Yorkshire Building Society, said that Bradford had an opportunity to renew itself but it remained with government to help move it from aspiration to reality. He was talking about the “political gimmick” of the Northern Powerhouse that many business people had since got behind – “a fully connected North which together can rebalance Britain’s economy” – but now needed “shovels in the ground” to ensure the promise moved to fulfilment. HS3 – a high-speed rail connection between Liverpool and Hull, via Manchester and Leeds (although no clear route has yet been agreed) – should come before HS2, not after it, said Andy.
The President also acknowledged the frustration of many employers with the lack of ‘work-ready’ school-leavers presenting for jobs, and said business must play its part in helping to overcome that problem.
Morrisons Chairman Andrew Higginson highlighted how the retailer was turning itself around following a troublesome few years. Admitting the company had “lost touch” with customers (confirmed with a 14% dip in sales over four years), a number of changes had been and continued to be implemented: new directors and chief executive; head office staff restructure; creation of convenience stores; adapt to online demand; becoming more adventurous/innovative; and a move back to traditional values of focusing on product and range, and listening to customers.
Entertainment for the 300-plus present was provided by police officer-turned-stand up comic Alfie Moore. The dinner was held at Cedar Court Hotel, and sponsored by Business Enterprise Fund, Christeyns, Handelsbanken and Schofield Sweeney.
Pic caption (L-R): Andy Caton, Bradford President; Andrew Higginson, Morrisons Chairman
Images by Roger Moody Photography.