Experts discuss what 2023 holds for businesses across north Derbyshire

2022 was another turbulent year as the economy emerged from the Covid pandemic. The effects of Brexit, the pandemic and rising energy costs triggered by the war in Ukraine, resulted in a downturn in the UK economy.
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Despite the fact the UK economy faces a difficult period ahead, with global headwinds adding to domestic pressures, businesses in Chesterfield remain positive, buoyed by the developments which have come out of the ground and the progress made in 2022.

This month’s round table, organised by Destination Chesterfield in conjunction with the Derbyshire Times, brought together representatives from across a number of industry sectors to discuss the outlook for the town and its businesses in 2023. Taking part were:

JM - Josh Marsh – Coordinator, Destination chesterfield

The discussion took place via video conferenceThe discussion took place via video conference
The discussion took place via video conference

SK - Scott Knowles, Chief Executive, East Midlands Chamber

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TG - Cllr Tricia Gilby, Leader of Chesterfield Borough Council

HB - Helen Bradshaw, Head of Recruitment, White Rose Beauty College

JC - John Croot, Chief Executive, Chesterfield Football Club and Chesterfield FC Community Trust

CW - Cat Walls, Business Development Manager, University of Derby

AG – Alex Gardener, Master Debonair

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JT - Joseph Tighe, Independent Financial Advisor, Jones & Co

EC – Emily Coy, Professional Business Coach, Business Doctors

There is talk of a recession in 2023. What can we do as a town and businesses to remain positive?

SK – Businesses are having to deal with inflationary pressures and rising energy costs right now and what that might be from the 1 April. There is no clarity from the government on further support beyond March 2023. This is, unfortunately, effecting investment in recruitment and planning and will do so until businesses know what the position is.

JT – I’m having a lot of conversations with clients about their financial situations. Inflation and poor performance in the investment market is affecting people who rely on their pensions for income.

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EC – It’s important the business community supports each other and moves forward together. Doing things like buying from local suppliers can make a big difference. Even though I am a small business I try to buy from suppliers in Chesterfield rather than Amazon. We can also promote each other across social media.

AG - We can remain positive by continuing to work closely with each other and support each other through this difficult time. Time will tell if the recession in 2023 becomes a huge issue but as a group we can get through it.

JC –The football club is locally owned and we see it as part of our role to support the town. Our half time food is sourced locally, and we’re working hard to bring more concerts and big games to the town in 2023 as we know these bring thousands of people into the town. It’s a way for us to pay back.

CW – In the new year I would encourage business to speak to support organisations to get them through the next few tricky months. There are plenty that offer free support, like Derby Uni and EMC. There is still loads of support out there, like European funding that might help and support your business in 2023. Grab that funding while you can..

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HB – We work with a number of funding partners and have a lot of funded courses and can offer fully funded courses which we’ve been reaching out to the Job Centre and refugee groups to make them aware that education is for everybody regardless of status or income.

TG – Keeping connected with each other is important. We are seeing businesses that have taken business advice in the last 18 months are more resilient and finding the current situation less stressful because they have had support. Chesterfield Borough Council has around 25 strategic partners, like Chesterfield College, East Midlands Chamber and University of Derby. Chesterfield came out of Covid on a strong foot because of those partnerships and we’re going into the recession with those partnerships still in place. We’re really good at pulling together at all levels in Chesterfield and I think this will pull us through this next challenge.

SK – Statistics and surveys all paint a fairly dire economic picture. However, when you speak to businesses there is a lot of positivity, and many are doing really well. They have accepted that margins will be lower next year but they still remain upbeat. There are businesses doing really, really well and there is a lot of positivity.

TG - It’s wonderful to see how the businesses in the town centre are promoting the Shop Local message. Partnership working makes us more resilient

As prices continue to rise across the board, including a significant minimum wage increase in April, what can businesses to mitigate the cost of living crisis for themselves and their employees?

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EC – This is such a challenge for businesses. Reducing headcount isn’t an option for many businesses so they have to look at productivity. The UK has lowest productivity out of all countries in the G7. Employers should look at how staff can do their job faster and more cost effectively. Productivity is key.

TG - Tenants that have moved into Northern Gateway Enterprise Centre are telling us that moving there has taken away some of the angst of running a business because their overheads are fixed. It’s also great to see them shopping in town during their lunch hours. The hope is this will translate into the early evening economy picking up again post Covid.

JT – The sheer increase in costs is going to be difficult to offset with efficiency savings.

JC - We are conscious of our off-the-field employees and what we can do to help them.

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HB – We’re encouraging learners to use products economically and only use what they need as it can’t be decanted back into the bottle because of cross contamination.

EC - I was working on a one-to-one coaching basis but was finding that many businesses can’t afford my fees as they feel the financial pressure from the cost of living crisis. The way forward for me is to offer my coaching services in a small group setting. Holding group sessions also allows people to share their problems with other business owners and they realise they are not alone, and that can be very valuable.

SK – Businesses should focus on reducing their energy demands over time. There is an education piece about how you reduce demands before you transition to sustainable sources.

CW – At the university, we are building sustainability into all of our business courses. Short term and long term, it’s vital that everyone gets involved.

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JC – We’re in the fortunate position that a year ago we signed up to an electricity contract which has enabled us to manage costs on things like floodlights. We know other football clubs are struggling with rising energy costs. Keeping the stadium up to standard is always a challenge. It’s ongoing. But we have some great sponsors that help us.

TG – We have two swimming pools in the borough and the cost of heating these is eyewatering.

SK - Derbyshire County Council has the Green Entrepreneurs Fund for things like installing solar and PV Systems. The University of Derby can also help with decarbonisation. East Midlands Chamber has also just launched a free tool that will help businesses within their Environmental, Social and Government (ESG) aspirations and we’ll be launching more ESG tools in 2023.

TG – Chesterfield Borough Council is a leader in prefabricated homes. We have built the first prefabricated homes in a generation. They are energy efficient and sustainable in both construction, transportation and for the people living in them.

What have been Chesterfield’s main achievements in 2022 and how will these benefit the town in 2023 and beyond?

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TG – The council took the very bold decision towards the end of the first lockdown to go ahead with the construction of the Northern Gateway Enterprise Centre and One Waterside Place because we felt it was important to see cranes in the sky send a positive message.

JC – The development of Waterside has added to the positivity as we have come out of Covid over the last year. Although we are heading for a recession, I believe we have the right attitude and a feeling that we can get through this.

SK – To see Chesterfield Waterside really starting to progress in 2022 has been welcome. Seeing buildings come out of the ground has been really positive.

TG – It makes me delighted that Northern Gateway Enterprise Centre And One Waterside Place are all being highlighted as positives for the town. These are all projects which the council led on with partners. As a council we always have to look to the future and opportunities.

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SK – it’s also been great seeing diversification in town centre and adjacent properties like The Glass Yard has all added to the offer.

JT - The Glass Yard is a really nice space to eat in and has been a big positive for the town in 2022.

HB – I think the standard of bars and restaurants we have in Chesterfield is really good. I moved up from Buckinghamshire 30 years ago and my sister has recently moved up from London to Chesterfield because she’s really impressed at what we have to offer here.

AG – As a high street business in Chesterfield, winning Retailer of the Year at the Love Chesterfield Awards has been a major achievement for us. It is helping us become more known in the town which will continue to help us bring in more customers from further afield which will benefit other businesses in the town.

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EC – I am just so proud of all the small businesses here. They have had such a tough time over the last three years. They have kept going. Taking the decision to start a business or move out of their home office and move into commercial rented space takes guts and determination.

HB – It is great to see new jobs being created in the town by all the new developments.

What plans do you have for your business or organisation in 2023?

HB – We are having a big relaunch for us in 2023. Having launched during Covid we don’t feel that our name is out there. During 2023 we are also looking to forge more, particularly with charities and organisations in the borough.

JT – Jones & Co is launching a new brand in 2023 and expanding our service offering to help give people a real in depth understanding of their financial situation and help them prepare well for the future, which is really important in the context of what’s going on in the economy right now.

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SK – The Digital High Street project has been a huge success for East Midlands Chamber and we’ll continue the digital transformation theme in 2023. We’ll also be launching a number of Pay As You Go dashboard services, which are not just for Chamber members. We actually work with a lot more non-members.

EC – 2023 for me is all about developing my group workshops to help me reach and help as many small businesses as possible.

SK – The markets have completely reset since the pandemic and Brexit – it’s a very different landscape to what it was previously, so we will be continuing to help businesses with their export ambitions in 2023.

JC – Promotion is the hope for Chesterfield FC in 2023. It would increase the number of day supporters coming into the town. On match day we can have up to 2,000 supporters coming into the town. We’re also doing live streaming of matches on the internet so we can be seen around the world. We have growing support in the US. Over last few weeks, the Club has gained shareholders in Chicago as a result of the interest generated from the Wrexham documentary on Netflix.

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SK – My sister lives in Las Vegas and her local sports store has Chesterfield FC shirts.

AG - We plan to further integrate Master Debonair into the local community and help and give back where possible so we can all prosper.

TG –I’m delighted to say that work will begin on improving Staveley Town Centre in 2023 because on the Town Deal funding. We are building on our heritage to create town centres that are fit for the future. A new academy will come out of the ground to enable young people to access sports qualifications. People in Staveley have got a lot to look forward to in 2023.