Croydon isn't middle-class enough for us, says Allianz Global Assistance chairman
ONE of Croydon's biggest employers has said it may be forced to reluctantly leave the borough – due to a lack of middle-class recruits.
Mike Webb, chairman of Allianz Global Assistance, told this week's Develop Croydon conference that the pool of middle-class people traditionally recruited to its business is drying up.
The company, based in George Street, employs around 600 people and in October opened a revamped headquarters with the message that it had no intention of quitting the borough.
And while that intention was stressed again by Mr Webb on Tuesday, he did sound the warning about future recruitment problems.
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Mr Webb said: "Croydon has been a fantastic place for us and we would like to be here for a long time."
He said its affinity with Croydon had been built up through its excellent staff base, which was largely local.
But he added: "The key issue is how we are going to continue to find these people because we see a large drift out of Croydon of the middle-class who have traditionally been our employees.
"If they are not here in two or three years time, we won't be here."
He believed the difficulty was being caused by the negative perception they had of Croydon.
Mr Webb added: "We need to be making the case for Croydon and its strengths more positively."
Croydon Council leader Mike Fisher admitted Croydon had an image problem.
He said the town no longer had the diversity of shops it had 20 or 30 years ago and its image had taken a huge kick from last year's riots.
But he added: "There is a real desire to invest in Croydon and people will want to come here when they realise what a good place it is to do business."
He said investment in the retail centre was on the horizon and office space was being improved.
Councillor Fisher said: "The centre will be transformed over the coming years and we will then overcome many of these problems."