Sheffield boss gives opinions at Number 10

Tristan Cowell, MD of local business IC Innovations
Tristan Cowell, MD of local business IC Innovations
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If an HS2 station is built in Sheffield city centre it may be down to a young Sheffield boss who was invited to 10 Downing Street to give his views on business.

Tristan Cowell, managing director of homewares firm IC Innovations, gave his backing to a high-speed rail stop on the old Victoria station site at an exclusive meeting inside the Prime Minister’s home.

He was one of 15 young business leaders invited to the most famous house in Britain to help shape government business policy.

Mr Cowell, aged 34, said he talked about better support for rapidly growing companies such as his, the cost of recruiting, the Northern Powerhouse, exporting and “celebrating what is great about Britain”.

He leads one of hundreds of organisations who believe the Government should switch the proposed HS2 station from Meadowhall to the city centre.

HS2 Ltd’s figures show it would create 6,500 more jobs.

Mr Cowell said: “I brought up the HS2 station. It doesn’t make sense that we would have buyers coming up from London and going to Meadowhall.”

He spoke to the Prime Minister’s head of business engagement, Niamh Mulholland, who said the meeting was organised at the request of the PM. She took notes and promised to relay his views directly to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor, Mr Cowell added.

“I’ve put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into the business over the last 10 years.

“This was one of the things that made it worthwhile. It was a bit of recognition, there are very few people who get to do that. It was a very special feeling but very surreal too.”

Before the visit he and his family went through MI5 background checks – and he had to show his passport after knocking on the famous black door.

Inside, he said he saw the famous staircase with portraits of past PMs and stunning rooms with ornate ceilings and fireplaces.

He added: “I think it was organised because the Government is busy doing high level stuff all the time and the PM wanted feedback from business owners running companies.”

IC Innovations, based on Attercliffe Road, is a wholesaler of homewares, gifts and seasonal products to big retailers, including John Lewis.

It bought the old headquarters of famous Sheffield metal dealer Tommy Ward in April last year.

The firm employs 22, turns over £2m and is set to recruit 10 in the next year.

Mr Cowell said he also spoke about the cost of hiring staff and said it was a brake on growth.

The invitation came through Emma Jones, head of Enterprise Nation after he agreed to give a talk in Barnsley.

But it wasn’t his first contact with the Camerons. IC Innovations sold a £24.99 cheeseboard to the First Lord of the Treasury – the PM’s official title – at 10 Downing Street, two years ago.