2019 Business Predictions: Mark Richardson, Partner at BB&J Commercial

Mark Richardson

It’s that time of year, when Business Link Magazine invites readers to offer up their forecasts for the year ahead. It has become something of a tradition, given that we’ve been doing this for almost 35 years.

And, while none of us possess a crystal ball, it is uncanny how accurate some of these forecasts have been over the years.

Here, Business Link catches up with Mark Richardson Partner at BB&J Commercial.

If, as they say, a week is a long time in politics then trying to predict what will happen throughout a whole year is a bit of a fools’ errand, particularly with political turmoil currently overshadowing everything. 

The impact of Brexit is difficult to assess. A ‘no deal’ Brexit would I believe be the worst possible outcome from an economic point of view. Staying in some form of Customs union is a possibility, but would satisfy neither Leavers nor Remainers. To my mind the best result will be to remain from a business point of view. I think our trade ties with the EU are such that leaving could be very damaging via a ‘trickle-down’ effect to business in the UK. Two things are for sure: the current uncertainty is damaging the confidence of both business and consumers alike, and whatever happens many people will be very, very unhappy. 

Trying to look past that, there are wider concerns globally as the Chinese economy, which has been a major driver in international growth looks to slow down. The UK depends considerably on trade exporting £22bn in goods to China in 2017 and similarly attracting £20 bn of Chinese investment, so I predict this could have an effect on business and consumer confidence. 

Having said all that, looking locally to my own business area in Derby there is cause for some optimism. Major employers in the area include Rolls-Royce, Bombardier and Toyota who employ tens of thousands across high-tech sectors, meaning the city is not just reliant upon UK trade. Not for nothing are we informally known as the city of ‘planes, trains and automobiles’. 

Derby is also on the cusp of a wave of redevelopment in the city centre which will have massive economic and regenerative benefits both for the consumer economy and in terms of city centre living. It is sometimes a bit of a struggle to get planning, but consent has been granted on Bio-House which is a 99 apartment multi-storey block due to come out of the ground this summer, and Derby Planning Committee are ‘minded’ to grant permission on Godwins development’s nearby Landmark scheme proposing 202 apartment in a 17 storey block, subject to minor planning issues. This is the city’s first foray into the ‘build to rent’ sector so will be watched with interest. Additionally the old hospital site is to be redeveloped with c800 new homes, there are multiple purpose built student blocks bringing a burgeoning university population closer to the city centre and there are plans to refurbish and reopen the Assembly Rooms from 2020 as an entertainment venue. I do predict that from a range of developments starting this year Derby can look to have a burgeoning compact and vibrant city centre with a healthy consumer and leisure spend, boosted by significant city living opportunities.