Looking Ahead

John Barker
Managing partner, Forbes Solicitors
Is it going to be any better in 2012? Unfortunately, probably not. The problem for businesses in Lancashire is that a lot of the issues are not within their control. The government is unlikely to stimulate growth by increasing borrowing or public spending so there is a limited number of options. It was hoped that the fall in value of the pound would stimulate and drive growth, however there is a large cloud looming over the whole economic climate and that is the problem of the Eurozone sovereign debt over which we seem to have no control. All that businesses in Lancashire can do is to run as cost effectively as possible and deliver goods or services which customers want at prices which customers are prepared to pay. It sounds simple but, as everyone knows, it isn’t. Businesses that can find the answer in 2012 will be successful whatever the economic background.

Joe Hall
Managing director, Hall’s Food Group
We’ll see more of the same in 2012, things will be very subdued. Sir Philip Green said that ‘flat is the new growth’ and I agree that there will undoubtedly be business casualties. But along with this there will also be good opportunities for the survivors, providing you have access to finance. Banks are lending on less favourable terms now and things take longer to process, which doesn’t help, but if you do have backing, you’re in a great position to capitalise.

Rachel Sault
Senior commercial manager, HSBC
Business owners’ ambitions are tempered due to uncertainty around the UK economy. However, with base rates at a record low since March 2009, lending is more affordable than ever. HSBC is very much open for business in Lancashire. Meanwhile, we must keep sight of sunnier economic climes; the pace of UK growth in 2010 through to 2020 is expected to increase and outperform the rest of Europe – only emerging market economies will perform better. As the government promotes an export-led recovery we expect demand for international products and services to increase.

Mike Wilkinson
Managing director, Lancashire and Blackpool Tourist Board
We have a great opportunity in 2012 to establish Lancashire in the minds of visitors as a destination where great things happen, where quality and great customer service are paramount and where lasting impressions are made. The calibre of events taking place in Lancashire this year will give the county an international platform and we have spent many months working with partners and stakeholders on shaping campaigns that will exploit the significant heritage, sporting and cultural opportunities provided by the 400th Anniversary of the Lancashire Witch Trials, the Open Golf Championship and the Preston Guild – to create unforgettable experiences.