Birmingham businessman Jason Wouhra has been named as the new chairman of the Institute of Directors in the West Midlands.
Mr Wouhra, who takes over from John Rider at the beginning of April, is the region’s youngest ever chairman at 35.
He is a director and company secretary of East End Foods plc, the £180 million annual turnover wholesaler of high quality ethnic foods which is based in Aston.
Mr Wouhra, a former vice-chairman of the Black Country Local Enterprise Partnership, paid tribute to the work of his successor.
He said: “John took over as IoD West Midlands chairman in the teeth of a global slump with the recession really battering the region.
“His unfailing optimism and support for local enterprise has seen him champion the region during his tenure and I will be seeking to emulate the achievements of his chairmanship.”
Mr Wouhra is vice-chair of the Institute of Director Young Directors Forum in the West Midlands, and co-chair of the New Birmingham Library advisory board. He is also an IoD-qualified chartered director.
IoD regional director John Phillips said: “With John Rider passing the baton to Jason Wouhra this heralds an exciting way forward for the IoD in our region.
“It is much more challenging to run a business support network like the IoD in recessionary times. However, in one way, we are at our most effective when times are difficult.
“With John’s help we have assisted our members in being more competitive and we have certainly helped with job search and broader career opportunities.”
Mr Wouhra is the IoD’s youngest ever chartered director and also studied part time to achieve a LLM – a Masters in Commercial Law.
These qualifications enabled him to make many improvements in the governance and the processes at East End Foods and as a result he became company secretary in 2006.
Having worked in the family business from a young age in school holidays and weekend, Mr Wouhra joined the firm full time after completing his law degree in 1998.
East End Foods is the largest importer of ethnic food ingredients in the UK. The company process, cleans, grinds and blends all products in the UK.
The firm supplies multiple retailers such as Tesco, Asda, Waitrose and Morrisons and the majority of independent retailers in the market as well as restaurants and catering establishments.
Jason Wouhra is currently director and head of operations at East End’s new flagship depot at the site of the former HP Sauce factory in Birmingham.
East End Foods has invested approximately £11 million in the development of phase one of the new site.
The 120,000 sq ft depot carries over 27,000 product lines and has created more than 100 jobs, transforming a site which lay derelict for over five years. The site is the second largest private sector development in Birmingham with phase two being developed over the next two years.
This will include a four-star hotel, conference centre and food academy. The second phase will require a further investment of £26 million and is intended to create a gateway to Birmingham.