Leading Warwickshire businessman Denys Shortt is set to be the chair of the new Coventry and Warwickshire local enterprise partnership.
Shortt, founder and chief executive of DCS Europe – the Stratford-based UK market leader in sales and distribution of health, beauty and household brands – is one of five private sector representatives on the LEP and is expected to be chosen as chair next month.
The announcement comes after Bridget Blow was named chair of the Birmingham LEP board and Stewart Towe was given the role in the Black Country.
Shortt founded DCS in 1994 and has built it into a business with annual sales of £125 million. It recently passed the £1 billion sales mark.
The board of the LEP – which will help create the conditions for economic growth – will also be made up of five representatives from the public sector and one each from Coventry University and the University of Warwick
His appointment is expected to be endorsed by a nominations group in January immediately before the LEP officially starts operating.
Shortt’s nomination was discussed at a meeting of business and council leaders.
He said: “This is a very exciting development and there was a very tangible feeling at the meeting that the formation of the LEP is a real opportunity for Coventry and Warwickshire to directly shape our future.
“I am very keen to be involved for that very reason. This area has some very strong selling points but we also have challenges and the formation of the LEP gives us a real chance to determine our own destiny.
“I think it is fair to say that in the early stages of forming the LEP, the public and private sector has to come together more than ever before.
“At the meeting we identified several key objectives – including planning, skills and transportation – and these will be included in a more specific full strategy document which we will create early in the new year.
“There are still some areas which need clarification at a national level, but we believe we are in a good position.
Shortt has recently invested £2 million in a new health and beauty manufacturing plant in Stratford-upon-Avon and now employs more than 200 staff.
Shortt, who played hockey for England, was also the founder of Enable Software, which operates from the same site and employs 16 staff.
Louise Bennett, chief executive of the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, said the latest meeting, which had discussed the make-up of the board, had proved very useful.
She said: “There was a very good exchange of views, from which some very clear priorities emerged.
“Denys has masses of enthusiasm and experience and a proven track record in business. I am sure he will prove to be a very good chairman.”
The meeting was co-hosted by Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Partnership and the Chamber, and attended by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), which will now invite businesses to join a leaders and stakeholders council which will support the main board.
Bruce Undy, of the FSB, said: “The Government has been very clear that it wants LEPs to be shaped and led by business and it is crucial that we have the input and feedback of local companies of all sizes and from all sectors.”