Region-returning IoD chief: Brexit is taking up too much bandwidth

By Scunthorpe Telegraph | Posted: 10 Dec 2018

Business leaders’ leader Stephen Martin returned to Lincolnshire, praising the innovation and resilience of those in the region during uncertain trading times.

The former chief executive of Scunthorpe’s Clugston Group is now director general of the Institute of Directors, providing a link between top tier business and Westminster. 

He addressed guests at the IoD Greater Lincolnshire annual business lunch, almost two years on from his St Vincent House departure. 

A former East Midlands Director of the Year from his decade spent at the helm of the construction giant, he said: “IoD members are many times more likely to trade abroad than the average business. For those that do, or for those with international supply chains, the uncertainty around what trade will look like come April 2019 is more than a thorn in the side.

“And many more members have faced a lack of clarity over regulations - how they will be governed, and what they will be. Just as importantly, Brexit has taken up the bandwidth of politicians at a time when the focus could have been on bolstering our skills system, our infrastructure, and devolution.”

Read more: Major minerals deal completes for steel supply chain duo

Speaking to an audience of 130 guests at Lincoln’s Bentley Hotel, Mr Martin added: “So at a time when politics seems forever stuck in a stalemate, what have IoD members been doing? Have you been sitting on your hands, and waiting for the political chaos to subside? Of course not. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. You have been busy finding new ways, despite the odds, to grow, to develop, and to innovate.”

The latest survey carried out just a few weeks ago, revealed around half of IoD members nationally have introduced a new product or service to the market in the past two years.

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The 2010 Northern Lincolnshire Business Person of the Year said: “Every new idea that a business takes time to develop is a risk. Every new avenue that you explore does not come without some cost. So to be continuing to move forward at a time of such flux is truly impressive. Because as we all know, it is not just your business that will benefit from these new ideas coming to fruition. It is everyone who makes use of them, and everyone who you are able to provide employment for because of them.

“In this light, it is crucial that incomprehensible regulation does not stand in your way. That same survey of hundreds of IoD members found strong support for tailored advice from Government on how to develop new products and services so that they adhere to current rules.

“The message from business to politics is plain and simple. It always has been. Set the rules, and we will play by them, creating prosperity as we go. But we need these rules to be clear, to ensure your enterprise isn’t wasted.”

Guests also heard from another inspirational Lincolnshire leader Dawn Barron, founder of consultancy Human Alchemy, who is also a board trustee of the YMCA and Nomad Trust.

MORE: Stephen Martin's life and career ahead of joining the IoD. Long read interview with David Laister 

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