THE new head of Barclays Bank in the region says his staff are responding the challenges of the recession by upping the time they spend with clients by 50%.
Brian Thorpe, who replaced Steve Walton earlier this year, believes the recession is also having a marked impact on the region’s business landscape.
The results of a new survey by the bank also show that North East businesses view the ability to 'leapfrog' struggling competitors as their key opportunity in the current recession.
The Turning the Corner survey, carried out at Barclays Commercial, found corporate attitudes in the UK remained focused on competition over consolidation as 54% of the 305 business owners and managers questioned viewed the challenges faced by competitors as their key recessionary opportunity, followed by a third who viewed staff loyalty, retention and productivity as their greatest opportunity during the downturn.
The research also revealed strong evidence that the recession was significantly and permanently transforming the UK economy, with 60% of businesses claiming their organisation had been transformed for good, while less than a quarter of companies have continued to operate unchanged.
Mr Thorpe, head of Barclays Commercial Bank in the North East said: "These results show that far from being focused solely on survival, many companies are using this period to make a renewed push for growth and market share.
"We are also seeing a grass roots economic transformation in the UK as businesses change what they produce and how they produce it en mass. This transformation is one that businesses and banks alike are working hard to understand and plan for."
Late payments (37%) are causing greater pressures than a lack of demand (34%) for business. Asked when their business would return to a sustained growth phase, 24% claimed they continued to grow, while another 60% saw a return to growth within 18 months.
Just 3% of businesses did not expect to return to sustained growth within two years. The findings reported that more than a third pointed to their banks as the single most important resource during the recession, second only to customer base.