By Daniel Hunter

The CBI is calling for an end to "profit" being used as a dirty word.

When markets work well, profits are made by pleasing consumers, not at their expense, the CBI said today (Wednesday).

The UK’s leading business group is calling for an end to profit being used like a dirty word. And an open conversation about why the profits businesses make ultimately benefit consumers — allowing companies to grow, create jobs and invest back in new products and services.

Newly released figures show 70% of people agree that profit is a good thing but that they also feel consumers lose when profits are made. The YouGov poll of more than 2000 UK adults for the CBI’s trust-in-business campaign — the Great Business Debate — shows 71% think companies put profits before the needs of consumers. This suggests that business is not doing enough to explain the link between company success and delivering for consumers.

The CBI — the voice of business, whose members include consumer-serving businesses of all types and sizes — is joining Which?, the voice of consumers for a Great Business Debate event today. It will ask: Can Consumers Trust Business?

As well as calling for a new attitude to profit, the CBI is asking businesses to listen harder so they can understand, and deliver, what consumers want and for consumers to be genuinely empowered to vote with their wallets.

Katja Hall, CBI Deputy Director-General, said: “Despite support for profits as a ‘good thing’, they continue to be demonised widely. We need to recalibrate this debate.

“When markets work well, the best businesses deliver for their customers and reap the rewards in sales and profits. Profits make employing people and investing in new products and services possible, in turn bringing huge long-run benefits to consumers.

“Our Great Business Debate is combatting myths about what business does and it recognises that people’s direct experience as customers is a big factor in determining their confidence in business generally.

“To boost trust, businesses must listen harder to understand and respond to their customers’ ever-evolving needs and expectations. And consumers must be genuinely enabled to use their spending power through giving them real product and service choices and the information to switch between them.”

Which? Executive Director, Richard Lloyd, said “Successful businesses know that by giving people the products and service they want, at a fair price, they’ll have happy customers who are more likely to stay loyal. But firms harm their own reputation and damage trust in their industry when they neglect the basics and fail to put the customer first.

“More consumer power is essential for building trust in business. Markets that work well for consumers are good for the most responsive, innovative and efficient businesses, and that is good for growth in the economy.”