SUCCESSFUL businesses in and around Basingstoke need to shout about their achievements – that was just one of the messages that emerged from a top level business forum at a leading local firm.

Among those taking part at the RSM Tenon Basingstoke Business Leaders' Forum was Basingstoke MP Maria Miller. Others who attended the business lunch at RSM Tenon’s Vantage offices included Andrew Finney, managing director of relocation firm HCR Group and a leading borough councillor, Rafi Razzak, chairman of Centerprise International, Linda Cheung, from social media start-up CubeSocial, and Gazette Newspapers editor Mark Jones.

Hosting the event was Nick Parker, RSM Tenon office managing director, and Mike Loftus RSM Tenon business consultant.

The discussion covered a wide range of topics, including the apparent reticence of local businesses to celebrate their successes.

Mr Parker said: “There appears to be a real hesitancy amongst local businesses to celebrate success. We have a lot of clients who are doing very well given the current economic environment, yet they are reluctant to tell anyone about it.

“The perception appears to be that the public resent success. I really feel we need to get over this if we are going to start seeing a more positive business outlook.”

Mrs Miller agreed, saying: “Locally, in Basingstoke, we do need to talk about our business success – we are a town which punches well above our weight.”

Councillor Finney told the group: “In general, everyone is still very negative about the economy and how things are going. In Basingstoke, things are actually going very well.”

Mr Razzak said: “It is a typical English thing that we don’t like to talk about success. There is still a lot of national debt that we need to get under control. When that starts to happen, I think we will start to see a more positive attitude.”

Mr Jones commented: “At the newspaper, we would love to hear more good news stories but it is difficult to get people to talk about their success.

“Basingstoke is full of good people and it is a positive place to be. We need to get the message out there now more than ever before.”

Robert Finlayson, joint managing partner at Lamb Brooks Solicitors, said: “There are a number of excellent and successful companies on the various business parks in and around Basingstoke. Part of the process of improving the stature of Basingstoke as a place to do business will be to involve these companies in promoting Basingstoke.”

Whilst there was a general agreement among the group that the business sector appears buoyant in Basingstoke and the Thames Valley, it was felt that there are critical steps to take to ensure the continued growth of the Basingstoke business community.

This includes the encouragement of start-ups in the area and early support through their development, the development of business-to-business networking groups, and the adoption of social media as an innovative way to develop new business.

When asked why Linda chose the town to start her business, she said: “Basingstoke has great transport links to London, there are a number of technical companies in this area, property is cheaper than London, and it has a talented workforce – all these positives make Basingstoke a desirable place to set up business.”

Apprenticeships was another hot topic, something that Paul Frewin, managing director of Wingate Electrical, has always been a supporter of.

He said: “Fifty per cent of the managers at Wingate come from apprenticeships. This year we are taking on 10 apprentices and we are also training admin staff to become future managers.”