BUSINESSMEN have been urged to ditch their broad accents if they want to be successful.

The warning came in a survey of top directors by a communication consultancy, and has angered some leading entrepreneurs.

Geordie accents were seen as a major disadvantage, but one Newcastle boatbuilder, who has sold his vessels all over the world, said: "Divvint taak daft."

Dave Ovington, who runs the hugely successful Ovington Marine, in North Tyneside, said: "Accents are accents and you can't do a thing about them. I don't hide who I am or where I come from, businessmen have to prove that they are not intimidated by their accent and prove they are the best."

Mr Ovington has even used local dialect in the naming of his latest sports vessel, Ovington Boats Like, after the Geordie habit of saying 'like' at the end of sentences.

However, he did concede there were occasions the survey's findings could be reality.

"I think sometimes it's true, there is a perception that we all wear cloth caps and work down the mines, but I think it's up to us Geordies to get rid of that initial impression by our hard work and dedication," he added.

The survey was carried out by the Aziz Corporation and said that regional accents were a big turn-off to top directors.

A spokesman for the company said: "A Geordie accent is perceived to be a distinct disadvantage to people who want to succeed in business."

The survey won't worry multi-millionaire Sir John Hall. The former Newcastle United chairman is renowned for his broad Geordie twang, and very proud of his working class roots in the mines.

Mark Fenwick, 55, head of the family which owns Newcastle's Fenwick department store, has an estimated fortune of £265m. He also speaks with a Geordie accent.

The survey did contain some good news for people from the North East. They are considered to be among the most hard-working and reliable in the country.