Thursday, January 10, 2019

News: New man in the driving seat at SCR LEP

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James Muir, former head of group national sales at Volkswagen, and chair of trustees at the Astrea Academy Trust, has been named as the new chair of the Sheffield city region (SCR) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) board.

LEPs are the Government's model to promote economic development. They provide the strategic leadership required to set out local economic priorities, and better reflect the natural economic geography of the areas they serve.

The board is private sector led and Muir replaces outgoing chair Sir Nigel Knowles, the global co-chairman of DLA Piper.

James graduated from Manchester University with a degree in German, followed by a postgraduate diploma in marketing and languages.

In 1983 he joined a manufacturer of tableware, spending his first year working full time in the factory, after which he was posted to set up the company's sales and distribution subsidiary in the German market.

Three years later he joined Ford Motor Company and held various sales and marketing positions, including sales director of Ford Switzerland, and regional director for the North of England.

In 2001 he was appointed managing director responsible for establishing Mazda's own company in the UK; in 2003 he was promoted to Mazda's European headquarters near Cologne, first as vice-president of sales & marketing and then as president and CEO of Mazda Europe where he led the company's turnaround from loss-maker to Mazda Corporation's most profitable business unit in the world.

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In 2009 James joined Volkswagen Group as president & CEO of SEAT based in Barcelona and tasked with revitalising its ailing brand. Over the following four years he led the complete restructuring of the company including the development of a new brand and product strategy.

Since mid-2013 James was based in Wolfsburg, Germany, responsible for running the VW Group's owned national sales companies across more than 20 countries world-wide, accounting for more than 4 million vehicle sales with over €80 billion of turnover.

In December 2018 James retired from VW Group. He is the Chair of the Astrea Academy Trust Board, one of England's largest multi academy trusts managing 28 primary and secondary schools located across South Yorkshire and North Cambridgeshire.

Muir said: "I'm very excited to have been appointed to this important role, and to build on the strong legacy that Sir Nigel has left behind.

"Using my business acumen and experience of spearheading businesses across more than 25 markets around the world, I believe I can support our local companies to develop and expand their potential across the globe.

"As a resident of Sheffield, with strong connections to the wider region, I want to do my utmost to create a vibrant economic powerhouse at the forefront of technological change."

The SCR was given the green light to establish one of the UK's first LEPs in 2010. Knowles, who replaced initial chair, James Newman, is now set to take on a bespoke role as special advisor to the mayor, Dan Jarvis, on International Trade and Investment.

James is set to chair his first meeting of the LEP next week. Devolution, overlapping boundaries and meeting the Government's mission for LEPs to address productivity will be high on the "to do" list.

SCR website

Images: SCR LEP

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