We welcome Simon Moore, Regional Director of CBI South West, to our regular series of interviews with leading figures in the South West business community. Simon was recently the Regional Chairman for Barclays Corporate in the South West and South Wales, and a consultant to Grant Thornton in Bristol.
Hello Simon, tell us about the CBI and your role as Regional Director South West
The CBI took a decision last year to re-create CBI South West as a region in its own right and asked me to be the Director, which I was delighted to accept. We have members across the South West in all different industries and professions. The CBI in the SW is led by its regional council, chaired by Jim French of Flybe. The purpose of the Council is to represent the views of members, which along with councils from across the UK, then help the CBI present the view of business to Government and influence policy directly. Our colleagues in London have excellent access to ministers and senior civil servants who are ready and willing to hear what business has to say, so our views here in the SW are heard by those that make the key decisions.
How has the economic recession impacted your business, and what challenges are you facing over the next 12 months?
Taking the above two questions together, the UK economy currently faces a number of headwinds, many of which are beyond its control – these include uncertainty in the Eurozone area and risks arising from a higher oil price. Consumers, understandably, feel very cautious about spending their hard-earned cash, which means conditions remain very tough for our consumer-facing businesses and are likely to continue to do so, although falling price inflation will help provide some support later in the year. At the same time, manufacturers have found the past year more difficult than people had hoped, due to the challenges facing UK companies seeking to export.
Do you think that the government should intervene more?
Government can do a great deal to improve the prospects of our businesses here in the South West. Above all, the Government must to rise to the challenge of creating the conditions which help companies create jobs and invest.
While we relied on consumer and Government spending for our growth in the past, we now need to re-balance our economy towards business investment and exports. That means the Government needs to support business in identifying how the UK will earn its living and pay its way in the years ahead. We must ensure Government policy supports investment, whether by UK companies or from overseas, particularly in our ageing infrastructure. Boosting our exports, particularly to fast-growing markets like China, India and South America, should become the number one aim of any growing UK business, supported by the Government. It is also vital that alternatives to bank lending are encouraged so that small and medium-sized businesses have access to a greater variety of finance sources, as they are the backbone of the UK’s economy.
What is your view on the South West’s business scene?
I think that the SW has the potential to become one of the premier trading regions of Europe, with significant investment planned for our infrastructure, including ports, railways, power stations, airports, built on the back of leading global businesses in aerospace and engineering, creative industries, financial services, manufacturing, some of the best universities in the UK with un-paralled links to business, a highly productive workforce and digital businesses cluster that is more significant than any other in the UK.
Do you have any Non-Executive Directorships? If so, what have you learned from the experience?
I am a governor of the University of West of England. I have come to fully appreciate the significance of great educational institutions, with a deep commitment to teaching, learning and opportunity for everyone. Successful business and opportunity for all are fundamentally linked.
Do you have any advice that you’d pass on to a newly appointed company director?
Dig deep below the management and find out what really happens in the business and what matters to people on the shop floor
What do you like to do outside of work?
Smallholding and supporting my wife’s business teaching others about life-style farming
Who is your hero / personal inspiration?
My sons – the challenges facing that generation are immense and seeing how they and their friends respond is truly inspiring
What is on your I-Pod and what are you reading right now?
Ipod has everything from Tallis to Pink Floyd. I’m reading Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin and have just finished Peter Mandelson’s The Third Man.
What has been your experience of working with our company?
Highly connected business with a focused personal touch