Thames Valley: Berkshire LEP appoints new chair

Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has announced the appointment of Bob Beveridge as its new chair. Beveridge has a diverse business career in both large organisations and SMEs within the consumer goods and technology sectors and has lived in Berkshire for 39 years.

Bob-Beveridge

Beveridge spent 12 years at Mars Chocolate in Slough, in finance and sales roles, ultimately becoming pan-European head of finance. After five years with United Biscuits he moved to the technology sector becoming CFO of Cable & Wireless Communications plc. After two further roles in the technology sector he returned to consumer goods as CFO of McBride plc, manufacturer of private label household products. Since 2010 he has been a portfolio non-executive director across a diverse range of business sectors: healthcare, technology, manufacturing and food.

Beveridge said of his appointment: “The LEP has a crucial role in agreeing  the strategy and vision to drive economic growth in Berkshire and undertakes activities to support businesses, local authorities and education partners, which drive job creation and increase productivity. I am delighted to take this role at such an important time; our Berkshire Local Industrial Recovery and Renewal Strategy needs to be ambitious and gain the full support of our business community as well as local government and stakeholders. We will use compelling evidence of past success as well as our leadership in digital technologies, to make the case for continued central government support and funding.

“The world is undergoing a data revolution; artificial intelligence is starting to transform the way we live and work, disrupting nearly every sector and creating new opportunities and challenges for people, places and businesses. We will harness the strengths of our local business sectors to lead the development of cutting-edge technological solutions to build a green recovery and integrate our Berkshire business hubs and communities. I want Berkshire to be at the forefront of this fourth industrial revolution, building on our existing strengths and position at the heart of the UK.

“The Berkshire economy is diverse and resilient but recent events require a renewed push on innovation, faster implementation of new technology, more skills training and re-training and meaningful investment to lead the UK economic recovery from the front. Businesses can and do react quickly to new challenges and the LEP must enable and facilitate the re-starting of economic growth to drive national and international success. Our recent Business Insights Survey has demonstrated that even in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic 5% of Berkshire businesses have achieved growth but there is much more to do.”

Berkshire’s business productivity is second only to London boasting the largest number of international businesses in the UK. However, the LEP area faces increased global competition. Beveridge added: “We need to update and evolve our strengths, to invest in new physical and digital infrastructure, new skills and new ideas, helping businesses improve their productivity, drive innovation and grow strongly. I hope to use the diversity of my business experience to engage effectively with our business partners and to ensure we deliver together an agreed strategy to not only drive economic growth in Berkshire but also underpin  economic recovery for the whole UK.”

Alison Webster, CEO of Thames Valley Berkshire LEP said: “I would like to thank Peter Read for his hard work as LEP chair over the past five years. Thames Valley Berkshire LEP has made great strides during his tenure and he has chaired the LEP with energy, passion, and considerable skill. On behalf of the LEP board and forum, Peter leaves with all our sincere best wishes. We are all looking forward to taking Peter’s legacy forward with Bob.”