Year Ahead 2016: Chris Hearld, KPMG

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Chris Hearld, Leeds office senior partner, KPMG

What didn’t happen in 2015 that was expected to?

The Leeds City Region/West Yorkshire devolution deal. It is understandable that we need to make sure that we get the best deal possible, but it was disappointing that it couldn’t get over the line before the year end.

What should we expect to see in 2016?

We expect to see a devolution deal signed and delivered next year, and momentum to build around the Northern Powerhouse with tangible and incremental investment in the region.

What would be a sign that things are going well?

The flow of investment into Yorkshire will be a bellwether of confidence, particularly if major corporates earmark investment for both people and assets.

What would be a sign that things are going badly?

After a period of economic recovery, job losses and any rise in unemployment would be worrying, particularly for young people.

What do you want to see happen in 2016?

I’d like to see more businesses exporting, and look to broaden their horizons from domestic to international trade. While there may be some uncertainty in emerging markets and Europe, any management team committed to growth should consider putting exports back on the boardroom agenda.

Who or what do you predict will have a successful year?

The technology and digital sector in Yorkshire is vibrant and grew by 8.5 per cent over the past 12 months, according to our latest Tech Monitor UK Survey. It has so much potential, with both a strong foundation of start-ups and small enterprises to some of the more established larger players in the region. 

Who or what is most at risk/faces a difficult year?

Traditional retailers continue to face intense competition, while also battling to transform their operations to an omnichannel model and respond to rapidly shifting consumer behaviour. It is hard to see when the sector will ‘turn the corner’ and 2016 might be too soon for some.

What are you most looking forward to in 2016?

I’m raring to go for the start of the rugby league season and for York City Knights to kick off their campaign for promotion. And, like most of my colleagues, I can’t wait for England at Euro 2016 and the battle of (almost all) of the home nations!

What are your words of wisdom for the year ahead?

We need more positivity. As a county, we should not forget that Yorkshire is filled with inspirational people and home to a fantastic business community.