Webinar – Leicester: time to stay ahead of the Joneses

An expert panel gathered to debate the way forward for the Leicester business community

A rollercoaster year for Leicester has ended with a distinct note of optimism, according to the panel on our latest East Midlands webinar, sponsored by Nelsons.

City Vision – How Leicester can power on in a post-pandemic world examined how the city’s economy is emerging from the pandemic to show that it remains one of the Midlands’ economic powerhouses?

The panel included:
– Glynis Wright MBE, partner, Nelsons
– Byron Dixon OBE, founder and CEO, Micro-Fresh
– James Coningsby, partner, Nelsons
– Kevin Harris, chair, Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership
– Professor Rachel Granger, professor of urban economies, DMU Leicester

Wright opened the debate saying that the last 12 months have been a “rollercoaster” of a year: “The longest imagineable,” she added.

“In Leicester we’ve had the difficulty of ongoing lockdown. We’ve had to get our staff through this, and at times it been hard to motivate them. There have been major issued for all businesses.”

Dixon said it had been a “truly awful time”. “Many businesses hit panic stations when the pandemic hit last March – us included – and it’s hit so many people socially and mentally. However, we didn’t put anyone on furlough, we’ve grown and we’ve expanded over the last few years and months – all from Leicester.”

Coningsby agreed, and said that many of Nelsons’ younger staff had felt this most keenly. He added: “Leicester is an amazing business community; the networking that goes on is prodigious and produces huge amounts of work referrals. For those who are looking to to start to build networks, the pandemic has created huge problems.”

Harris accentuated the positives, saying: “For a lot of people it’s given them time to take a step back and evaluate their businesses, and that has positive. With my LEP hat on, we’ve seen a fivefold increase in enquiries into the Business Hub and business owners really do need to know where to come for advice.”

Granger said that Leicester needs a coherent vision for the future. She said: “We do miss a trick sometimes in thinking about integrated vision. I hope that we can look beyond the cultural sector and the retail sector. That was the economy of 10-20 years ago. I think we need to be more imaginative; rather than keeping up with the Jones’s – we need to stay ahead of the Jones’s. We need to be looking at net zero in the city and repurposing it for massive data use, but we should also take seriously the sharing economy.”

On the future of the workplace, Coningsby added: “We’re currently working on a flexible working policy and, fingers crossed it will be implemented later this year. So, things will change.

“What we’ve all learned in the last 12 months is to learn to adapt and that has enabled us to stay ahead of the game, which is absolutely key as we get back to something like normality.”

Harris said: “I think what we have is the most resilient business economy. We also have such a diverse business community that frankly whatever issue is thrown at it, we have people who can find a way around it. The strength of the city and county is based on the strength of the wider community.

Wright looked to the future. She said: “I have absolute faith in the Leicester businesses community. Boy have we been through it, but it remains vibrant.”

To view the entire conversation, click here and enter the passcode: J%0K2N64

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