Why there are good reasons to be hopeful about ‘Brand Yorkshire’: Greg Wright

Published 21st Feb 2024, 14:29 GMT

In some respects, the world has changed beyond recognition over the last two decades. We’ve witnessed the greed and folly of the financial crash, the collapse of businesses that seemed to be immovable parts of the corporate landscape and the relentless march of social media, which appears to have made us mobile phone slaves, “doom-scrolling” around the clock or compelled to compare our lives with those of others.

We live in an age when your ‘best life’ must always be on public display. It’s doubtful if this development is good for our mental or physical health. Some wish we could turn back the clock to the days when the world moved at a gentler pace, without the expectations of full personal disclosure.

It’s always tempting to look back with rose-tinted spectacles on an era when the only information super highway was the road where the mobile library used to park. The simple fact is that technology has brought a ruthless efficiency to our lives, with financial and personal interactions now conducted in the blink of an eye, with all the attendant risks.

Niv Subramanian of Allica Bank at the recent roundtable. (Photo by Allan McKenzie/AMGP.co.uk)Niv Subramanian of Allica Bank at the recent roundtable. (Photo by Allan McKenzie/AMGP.co.uk)
Niv Subramanian of Allica Bank at the recent roundtable. (Photo by Allan McKenzie/AMGP.co.uk)

This development has triggered hundreds of bank branch closures, as many financial services companies now seem to assume that everyone is internet savvy, and it has also caused an existential crisis on the high street. Retailers[1] have been forced to ask big questions. How do we keep attracting consumers to bricks and mortar stores on a wet Wednesday in February, when they can have pretty much all they desire with the click of a mouse?

Today, the corporate mood music can sound like a funeral march. It’s easy to feel depressed, for example, about the state of public transport and the lack of ambition displayed by the Government[2] when it decided to scrap the northern leg of HS2. Brexit has unquestionably caused divisions, distractions and uncertainty and the pandemic brought anguish and disruption to every household.

But a time traveller from the early 2000s would be impressed by the transformation of Yorkshire’s towns and cities. Cranes gradually returned to the region’s skylines after the deep freeze of the financial crash, bringing with them environmentally friendly retail, office and housing schemes. Parts of cities such as Leeds[3], Bradford, Sheffield and Hull have undergone radical and welcome changes.

But some problems are hard to overcome. The challenges and opportunities facing fast growing firms came under the spotlight at a roundtable I hosted with Allica Bank for The Yorkshire Post. The business leaders who participated were a dynamic group with a “glass half full” attitude. However, the concerns they raised around skills shortages, unexpected changes in Government policy and the apparent injustice in elements of the tax system, would have struck a chord with an audience from 2004. They all agreed that “brand Yorkshire” could be an unstoppable force with a little enlightened support from policymakers. It’s still a privilege to write about all the glorious businesses that have decided to establish a base in God’s Own County.

Greg Wright[4] is the deputy business editor of The Yorkshire Post


  1. ^ Retailers (www.yorkshirepost.co.uk)
  2. ^ Government (www.yorkshirepost.co.uk)
  3. ^ Leeds (www.yorkshirepost.co.uk)
  4. ^ Greg Wright (www.yorkshirepost.co.uk)