Speaking at a fringe event at the Labour party conference in Brighton today, on business trust and responsible business practices, he said, “Something has become broken in the relationship between business and society. Yet business is a necessary engine of growth, the engine that will create jobs.
“Business must show its responsible side – not in any altruistic sense – but because we must get trust back. There is undoubtedly an issue of confidence: confidence on the part of society in business, and confidence within business itself about the fragility of the economic recovery.”
Collins said that the country was in a Catch 22 situation where because society had lost trust in business, it was pushing hard for more regulation. Yet regulation itself was stifling confidence and trust. “I want to see CEOs pushing the throttle just half an inch to create jobs and create growth. Business needs to do that to demonstrate to society that job creation is across the board,” he said.
Collins went on to say that rather than relying on the eurozone to help the UK out of recession, businesses should be looking to high growth markets. They should be trying to exploit new areas of consumer demand and showcase innovation and design, and they should be collaborating with companies within those markets.
Last but not least, he warned against concentrating on SMEs as engines of growth to the detriment of larger businesses. “There is increasing talk about the importance of developing a UK mittlestand,” he said.
“I see no conflict between large and small business. When it works, it is about backing business. One example is how Jaguar Land Rover is creating a whole sub-region with the development of a supplier base around its core facilities.”