New Business West chair calls for region to ‘punch a bit above our weight’ to succeed

August 18, 2017

Business West, the region’s largest business organisation, has appointed one of the South West’s top marketeers as its new chairman.

Iain Wolsey, pictured, said he wanted Business West to ensure the region “punched a bit above our weight” and competed against the likes of the Northern Powerhouse and the Midlands Engine.  

“If we want to be regarded as part of the club of giants, we do need to stand with the giants,” he said.

Iain has held a number of senior marketing positions in the retail sector in a career spanning nearly five decades – including head of marketing at Swindon-based WH Smith – and is also the founding partner of Bristol consultancy Wolsey Meech. 

He takes over the role of chairman at Business West – the organisation behind the Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative – from Bristol entrepreneur Mark Mason, who held it temporarily and who remains on the board.

Iain said his new role would be far reaching and added: “I firmly believe in the importance of the leadership and business support role that it plays at local, regional, national and indeed international level.

“I think it’s more important than ever for Business West to continue to stand up for business with real belief, as we have seen in Manchester with the Northern Powerhouse and in the West Midlands.

“It means punching a bit above our weight, but if we want to be regarded as part of the club of giants, we do need to stand with the giants.

“And we have to find ways of being really relevant to the businesses we represent in the region.

“I think that government needs to listen to us because here at Business West we represent not just business but the people those businesses employ in the region.”

Iain has held a string of key marketing jobs in retail. In the 1970s he was marketing director of UK supermarket chain Fine Fare, which merged with Gateway, the Bristol-based supermarket group, in 1985.

When Gateway was later renamed Somerfield he became its marketing director and also sat on its main board. He set up Wolsey Meech as an international marketing consultancy in 1992.

Business West managing director Phil Smith said: “At the heart of Business West’s success is our ability to engage with and listen to the concerns and hopes of thousands of local businesses. 

“However, our success also relies upon the willingness and ability of the chairman to guide the company in taking policy leadership stances based on interpretation of these various and sometimes conflicting views.

“I am delighted to welcome Iain who, with a career spanning almost 50 years, brings with him a wealth of business and marketing knowledge and I have no doubt that Business West will benefit from Iain’s experience in this area.

“It is vitally important to attract business people from a wide range of backgrounds to take up positions on our board. Reflecting the rich diversity of our members and clients at board level will help us to better understand the needs of the businesses we serve.

“Our board of directors is made up of unpaid volunteers, giving freely of their time and business expertise and we greatly value their help in the development of Business West.”

Business West has also welcomed Dr Jonathan Frost OBE to its board. Until recently he had been with Johnson Matthey for 16 years, latterly as technology strategy director based in its Swindon fuel cells plant.

Iain and Jonathan join exist directors on the Business West board Prof Steve West CBE, who is also UWE vice-chancellor; Peter Rilett, chairman of North Bristol Hospital; Mark Mason, MBE, chairman of Bristol research and development tax credit consultancy ForrestBrown; Alan Fletcher, Deputy Lieutenant of Wiltshire; Nicky Alberry, DL and chair of Swindon IT and communications support company Excalibur; Ian Bell, executive director of Bath Chamber of Commerce and Initiative; Richard Bonner, UK cities director at property management company Arcadis; Mike Godfrey, OBE, chair of Swindon & Wiltshire Initiative; Sarah Pullen, regional managing director of Trinity Mirror; and Janine Woodcock, managing director of leadership coaching consultancy Zingg.




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