Can Leeds really be so bad at selling itself? An investor speaks

“Leeds is terrible at selling itself as a city and a city region. You have got to do better,” the director of policy at British Chambers of Commerce tells the Leeds Chamber.


Fear not. He’s not talking about the City Varieties or the PR department at Elland Rd, but our great city’s ability to attract INVESTMENT and stimulate GROWTH – the twin towers of our civic ambition.

Now the question is: has he got a point?

Cheque-book out

Crazy-angled shots of shiny buildings

Say I was an investor up for being sold the idea of investing in Leeds (go on, humour me), where would I go?

Call me old-fashioned but I’d go to the city’s investment website, Financial Leeds. And I’d click straight away on the INVEST IN LEEDS CITY REGION tab on its home page. And I’d see there was a video there and I’d play it.

So simple I’ve almost got my cheque-book out already.

Now some people aren’t convinced by those promo videos that are blokes in suits going “integrity, wealth of experience, top quality people, yada yada…” to camera, broken up with crazy-angled shots of shiny buildings. But I like them in an old-skool retro kind of way.

So, say I watched the vid to the end and was impressed enough to find out more (go on, humour me). What would I do then?

Meet the team

Well, call me old-fashioned but I’d click on the tab that says MEET THE TEAM. And what would I find?

There’s only one person in the team. Oh…

A bit of a shocker admittedly, but nothing ventured, nothing gained (as we investors say). I think again.

Know what I’d do next? I’d try and speak to some of the people in the video. The ones with official Leeds and Yorkshire titles. I’m sure I saw some chief executives in there.

She left when?

So I’d go back to the video. And lo and behold the bloke introducing it is called Howard Kew, and he’s chief executive of Financial Leeds. I’d ring the contact number, ask for him, and here’s how the conversation would go:

“What? He’s no longer with you? He left when? Can I speak to his replacement then? She’s not coming till when? You’re in the middle of a re-organisation? Oh.

“Then what about that lady from Marketing Leeds who was on the video? Deborah Green…that’s the one. Can I speak to her? She’s no longer with you either? She left when? Oh, I see. Yes, that IS a long time ago.

“Then can I speak to HER replacement? Oh I see, it’s the same person and she’s not coming till then either. You’ve been in the middle of a re-organisation since when? … What’s that you say? There’s information on the Financial Leeds brochure? On the website? Perfect.”

I wait…and wait…and…

A World-Class Financial Centre

Silly me. It was there all along. Just below the video. The Financial Leeds brochure.

I open it up. Looks good. Some classy night-time photos of shiny buildings. I follow the instructions to “double click for zooming” so I can read the text.

I wait…

And wait…

And wait…

Something’s happening – there’s a funny line that keeps moving on top of the text – but whatever it is it’s not resolving itself.

There’s only you there?

Do I give up then? No way. Us investors don’t get where we are by giving up at the first three signs of adversity.

And as luck would have it, it’s then that I remember there was this other chap on the video, and I liked the cut of his jib when he talked about Leeds being a low risk, high reward region. That’s my kind of region.

So I go back to the video and find out who it is – Tom Riordan, chief executive of Yorkshire Forward. Yorkshire Forward. Now that rings a bell.

I go to the Yorkshire Forward website, find a phone number and ring.

“Can I speak to Tom Riordan, please? Gone? When? Eighteen months ago? But the video? Oh. Made two years ago? Oh. They’ve all gone? There’s only you there? They’ve gone where? To the what? The Leeds city region local enterprise partnership? What’s that? Oh. They’re dealing with investment now? Oh.”

So I head off to the local enterprise partnership website to check it out…

….then head for Manchester.


About the leeds citizen

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4 Responses to Can Leeds really be so bad at selling itself? An investor speaks

  1. Please note that Locate in Leeds, Leeds City Council’s Business Investment Team, is the primary contact for all enquiries regarding investment in Leeds.

    The Locate in Leeds team can assist companies by providing detailed and bespoke information on various aspects of the Leeds economy, labour and property markets, providing a property location service and arranging presentations and tours for prospective investors. We also work closely with a range of partners such as Employment Leeds, the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, UK Trade & Investment and Leeds, York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce (of which Financial Leeds is now a part).

    For further information on inward investment opportunities in Leeds and services offered by the team, please visit or call 0113 2206 350.

      • Hey Dan, the problem (for all you guys – and for us investors) is that if you type ‘invest in Leeds’ (no quotes) into Google the top two entries are for the Financial Leeds site. Type it in quotes and the top three are Financial Leeds pages. Type in ‘invest in leeds city region’ (no quotes) and you get pages from the LCR website. Do it with quotes and the top 7 entries are Financial Leeds pages – followed by…erm…this post.

  2. scooby doo says:

    ha ha Leeds is a run down shit hole full of mostly grotty council estates & scruffy down at heel folk who look skint, tired & pissed off, the sky is always choked by a grey depressing poison, the inner city suburbs are crawling with aimless immigrants & track suit clad pasty faced benefit sponging reprobates, fat teenage single mothers bearing all the markings of a dragged up life, most of the cities affluence belongs to middle class students & exiled cockney wankers that live in the yuppie flats or swanky outer suburbs, Don’t believe the hype…..because that’s all it is! I was born & bred here & I can’t wait to get the fuck out of the place!!!

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