FDs optimistic for 2002

Speaking to Accountancy Age’s sister publication Financial Director magazine, John Coombe, FD at pharmaceutical giants GlaxoSmithKline was optimistic about Britain’s economic outlook. Coombe said the country would avoid a recession, provided Gordon Brown did not raise taxes to fund ambitious and ‘unaffordable’ spending plans.

On the issue of the euro, Coombe said he expected it to taper out into non-event in the medium term.

Scottish Media Group FD George Watt also said the UK would avoid recession, but said certain sectors like consumer facing businesses would have an easy ride.

He said the introduction of the euro would be somewhere between fireworks and a damp squib, but said the currency had been ‘well trailed’ and the eurozone should benefit from price transparency.

Stacey Cartwright of online bank Egg said she expected the slowdown to continue, but said Britain would fare better than other European countries. Like SMG’s Watt, she said the euro would be a non-event.

Asked about the impact of 11 September in 2002, Coombe said FDs had realised they could do their jobs with ‘a lot less travel’, while Watt said the effects of the attacks were ‘apparently less than at first feared’ with the worst effects ‘already shaken off’. Cartwright said Egg’s biggest area of sensitivity was credit quality and potential bad debts.

Other FDs interviewed included Simon Laffin of Safeway, Martin Jackson of Friends Provident, Ron Turnbull of Pubmaster, and John Edwards of BNFL.

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