14 February 2018
Gareth John, a senior partner at Gateley Plc, takes a wry look at the needs of Leicester's under-appreciated professional community.
A lot has happened to Leicester city centre in the last few years:
The work around the markets has vastly improved the area and together with Highcross makes Leicester a great destination for shoppers.
The development of the KRIII visitor centre and the Cathedral grounds has attracted tourists from all over the world.
The number of student apartments that have recently been built means that students at our two great universities have never had a better or more luxurious choice of where to live.
Our artistic and creative types have an area of the city dedicated to culture and of course the city has created a large number of lanes for cyclists.
However, a city the size of Leicester has another community which is rarely heard and whose interests have sadly been overlooked for too many years.
If you haven’t guessed, I am referring to Leicester’s professional and financial services community which counts in its number the much-loved bankers, accountants, lawyers, surveyors and other funding and advisory types. Perhaps they don’t have their little corner of the city because a “professional and financial services quarter” is too much of a mouthful. Or perhaps they are so spread out across the city and the outlying business parks of Grove and Meridian that you don’t see them around much and ‘out of sight’ is effectively ‘out of mind’. By the way if you’re not sure, they’re the stressed ones in suits (unless it’s dress down Friday) in the M&S food hall at lunch time.
The problem is that, over the last 15/20 years, the city has been losing members of the professional & financial community and not just to the out of town business parks but, far worse, to other cities.
The relocation of Mattioli Woods from Grove Park to the city centre shows that if you create the right environment (quality offices with parking) the demand is there. Even better if you can put them all in the same area of town so that they can talk deals, share prices and interest rates happily amongst themselves over a business lunch. David Cameron famously once asked us all to “hug a hoodie”. Next time you see me in my pinstripe buying a pastrami salad ciabatta in M&S, a peck on the cheek will do.