A BUSINESS group that campaigns to ensure Yorkshire’s bosses have a voice at Westminster is establishing a base in one of the region’s best known office buildings.
The Institute of Directors is moving its Leeds headquarters to the historic Cloth Hall Court.
The organisation for professional leaders will move to the Grade II-listed building on Quebec Street, which is part of Leeds Beckett University, this month.
As the name suggests, the building was built for cloth trading, specifically Yorkshire Broadcloths’, which helped Leeds gain its status as a centre for the wool and cloth industries
In its heyday, the Coloured Cloth Hall housed 1,770 stalls for merchants to display their goods, while the central courtyard welcomed up to 20,000 people for public meetings.
An open house will be held on July 18, where guests will have the opportunity to meet the IoD’s incoming West Yorkshire chairman Richard Smith, managing director of the Leeds-based Surfachem Group.
The new headquarters, which is across the road from Leeds railway station, offers conferencing facilities that cater for small meetings and conferences of up to 300 delegates.
Other features include AV (audio visual) technology, superfast wi-fi and VIP on-site parking. Well Met, the university’s conference department, will manage the new facility.
The IoD was previously based at Old Broadcasting House on Woodhouse Lane in Leeds.
Natalie Sykes, regional director of the IoD, said: “This is an exciting move for the IoD that places us right at the heart of the business community in Leeds.
“We invite you to come and view the redevelopment of a building that’s been part of the city’s fabric for centuries. Come and join us for a cup of tea or coffee and view our new facilities first hand.”
Mr Smith added: “I am delighted to be taking on this role in West Yorkshire and look forward to meeting existing and new members at this and future events.”
Mr Smith is a respected commentator who recently took part in a high profile round table event in Leeds, which was hosted by UK Trade and Investment and The Yorkshire Post, with the aim of encouraging more firms to get involved with exporting.
The event found that in some emerging markets, the economic powerhouses of the future are emerging at a phenomenal rate. Mr Smith said this point was reinforced during a recent trip to China
He told the round table debate: “I remember going to China back in 2004 for a business I was running. We were driving along a beautiful highway.
“There was no traffic - just farmers drying their sweetcorn on the road.”
In 2015, he returned to the same province and found that a city had been created on this site.
Ms Sykes is the former regional chairman of the IoD’s Young Directors’ Forum. She started her first business at the age of 17.
She has spent almost 20 years working on projects for private owners and investors, including the development of a vineyard in the Loire Valley, the procurement of an ecology spa and golf resorts in Europe, and developing luxury villas and resorts in Africa, and historical venues across England.
Ms Sykes started her first business in 1993 when she saw a niche in the haulage and capital equipment industries to supply electrical components in bulk.
The IoD helps to shape policy by speaking out about issues that affect its members.
In a recent IoD poll, business leaders voiced concern about the political uncertainty gripping the country and its impact on the economy.
The first poll of businesses after the General Election revealed a “dramatic drop” in confidence, according to the IoD study.
Company directors saw no clear way to resolve the political situation quickly. They also believed another election this year would have a negative impact on the UK economy.
The 700 members of the IoD who took part in the survey said they were keen to see a quick agreement with the European Union on transitional arrangements surrounding the UK’s withdrawal, and clarity on the status of EU workers in the UK.
The priority for the new Government must be reaching a new trade deal with the European Union, the directors said.
The open day for the new headquarters in Cloth Hall Court is at 10.30am on July 18 and is free to attend.
The IoD has grown to 1,200 members in Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire. It has branches in East, South, West and North Yorkshire.
It has successfully launched and grown an ambassador network of high-profile business leaders who represent and promote the interests of the IoD in their area and encourage local businesses to contribute to the IoD’s influential policy voice.
Last week, the IoD held its annual Director of the Year awards for Yorkshire and the North East with Herwig Vennekens of Haribo crowned Overall Director of the Year.
Mr Vennekens received his trophy at a black-tie dinner attended by around 200 guests at The Principal York hotel. The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Lord Haskins of Skidby, chair of the Humber LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership).