Allianz chief warns he could leave Croydon
The chairman of one of Croydon’s largest businesses has threatened to pull out of Croydon unless more is done to attract other big business.
Mike Webb, the chairman of insurance company Allianz - which has 450 employees at its Croydon head office - said there was no immediate danger of his business leaving the borough but if current trends continued in three years time they would have a difficult decision to make about whether to stay.
He said he wanted to stop the rot after a number of large companies left the borough recently, including Nestle, Bank of America and Direct Line.
He believes more big businesses would help improve and create more jobs in the town, and encourage a better workforce to move to the area.
The chairman added one of his main concerns about staying in Croydon was the quality of applicants coming from the town.
The business was the centre of controversy in 2012 when it was reported he said there were not enough middle class workers in Croydon.
Mr Webb, who has been based in Croydon since 1990, said this week the issue was not about class but about Croydon’s future.
He said in 2012 Allianz made 102 job offers for Croydon-based non specialist roles with just 24 succesful applicants living in Croydon.
Three years ago 80 per cent of job offers came from people living in the borough.
Mr Webb said the Westfield and Hammerson regeneration plans should go some way to improve the town’s image.
Mr Webb called on the council to engage with companies and encourage companies to come into Croydon and invest to generate more jobs and fill up some of the office space in the town.
Gavin Barwell, MP for Croydon Central, said he understood Mr Webb’s concerns and said initiatives to improve relations with big companies, including recruiting someone to deal with the recruitment and retention of big private sector companies employers, and school reforms would hopefully produce more people with the skills and employability that employers like Allianz needed.
A council spokeswoman said they are actively looking to promote Croydon to businesses of all sizes.
She said: “We promote the town locally, regionally and on the international market.
“We work closely within the private-sector-led Develop Croydon body to promote the borough and Croydon BID which represents 580 organisations.
“This is one way in which we keep the borough’s resident business community up to date.”