Private firms must regain public trust – says BskyB boss

 THE boss of one of the UK’s largest firms has challenged North East businesses to help restore consumer trust in the private sector, which he believes could be at an all time low.

 Jeremy Darroch, CEO of broadcasting giant BSkyB, warned that the recession and the fallout from the banking crisis had severely damaged the public’s trust in private businesses.

 Speaking at the North East Chamber of Commerce’s annual dinner in Newcastle, Mr Darroch explained why firms must engage with their customers more than ever before and increase their contribution to the communities around them to repair strained relationships.

 The Northumberland-born chief executive also told the 400-strong audience of NECC members that the ability to adapt, change and renew was critical in creating a successful business in today’s challenging environment.

 He said: “Private enterprise is facing what I would call a trust deficit. It’s become accepted wisdom in some quarters that businesses are driven only by greed and the ruthless pursuit of profit and that they care little for the customers and communities that sustain them.

 “It’s true that the financial crisis has badly damaged trust in business, but we’d be kidding ourselves if we think that it’s a problem unique to the finance industry. It’s a characteristic that’s been commonplace in too many sectors for too long.

 “For all companies it’s about laying foundations for sustainable growth by deepening relationships with customers and, with trust in business arguably at an all time low, that’s not an opportunity that one should turn down lightly.”

 NECC president, Martyn Pellew, spoke earlier at the dinner and urged the Government to limit the impact of public spending cuts on businesses in the North East.

 He also called on the region’s business leaders to show strength of ambition in meeting the Government’s challenge to the private sector to lead the recovery.

 He said: “It would be all too easy to cut services including those business-facing ones that are provided from the public sector. But it is crucial that the potentially adverse impact on businesses is managed and mitigated.

 “That is why NECC will be maintaining its economic recovery test on new policies. Simply we will always ask ‘does this proposed action, legislation or policy actually help us to create new jobs and generate growth and wealth from which we can pay more in taxes on profits and on income?’ If not then we will lobby rigorously for its exclusion.”

 Mr Pellew also told the North East business community of the need to play its part in making a success of the incoming Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and North East Economic Partnership, which are set to replace the region’s current publicly-funded support network.

 “We, the North East’s business community, must make the LEPs and North East Economic Partnership a fitting legacy to their efforts. 

 “We must all work to once again see the North East back at the top of the league tables of economic growth,” he said.

 Mr Pellew, who recently completed a trade mission to China, went on to champion the case for improved transport links to the region to help boost North East exports.

 NECC also welcomed the world’s greatest explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes to Newcastle’s Civic Centre as he reflected on his many dangerous adventures across the globe.

 Also in attendance were representatives from the key sponsors of the event, Capita IT Services and Gateshead College.

 Michael King, business development manager at Capita, said: “We were delighted to take part and support the region’s most prestigious business event. The NECC has done a fantastic job to bring everyone together and it’s great to see the business community continue to be supported.”

 Gateshead College principal Richard Thorold added: “We fully support what the NECC is trying to achieve in terms of generating further business and bringing the business community together.”

 The NECC currently has more than 4,000 members, making it the second largest chamber of commerce in the UK.

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