Second term for Chamber President as he reveals plan for year ahead

One of Northern Ireland’s most prominent and successful business people, Rajesh Rana, has been voted in for a second term in the Presidency role at Belfast Chamber.

Rajesh is director of Andras Hotels, Belfast’s largest hotel group, who own and operate seven hotels in the city.

Rajesh has had a high-profile and extremely busy tenure in a year of highs and lows for the city, from the challenging trading environment after the Bank Buildings fire, to a year of great growth in the booming sectors of hospitality, tech and professional services.

Speaking at the AGM event held in Glandore Business Centre, the home of Belfast Chamber, Rajesh said that it had been a true honour to serve in this position ecelebrated the huge milestones that Belfast Chamber had made in the past 12 months and revealed Belfast Chamber’s Business Plan for the forthcoming year.

Rajesh said: “It has been a very busy year and I am proud that alongside our Executive Council that we have faced the challenge presented by the Bank Buildings fire and we made our commitment to giving a voice to retailers, restauranteurs and all businesses affected to support Belfast in this period.

“Our membership has grown by 25%, with new businesses joining from tech, professional services, hospitality and retail. We have start-ups joining alongside multi-national corporations and that is down to the relationships that we have formed with our senior decision makers and the strides we have made on behalf of our members.

“I have made it my commitment to build on the already excellent work of my predecessors and senior Executive Council members to further cement relationships, to lobby alongside them on pertinent issues that face our city and to build a strong strategy for the future of Belfast Chamber.

“This is a fantastic organisation which we only want to improve and attract further talent to.

“We had another exceptional Belfast Business Awards event in May at Titanic Belfast where we recognised and rewarded 21 top businesses in the city.

Rajesh went on to thank the members who attended the recent trade delegation to New York and said “It was a privilege to meet our counterparts in the business and government community in the great city of New York.

“We had start-ups, major enterprises and long-established family business on our trip who embraced it wholeheartedly and represented our city so well.

Looking to the future, Rajesh launched Belfast Chamber’s six-point plan for the year ahead.

“The City is at a turning point and our six-point plan drives our ambitions to promote investment in our city and support local businesses.

“Firstly, we will redouble our focus on lobbying on behalf of all businesses in the city to address issues and progress opportunities they encounter.

“We will help to make Belfast a business-friendly environment through stronger links with the City Council, government departments and other agencies, to help them understand the importance of business.

“We brought a trade delegation to New York this June and we plan to grow our international connections with partner cities and regions.

“We also have plans to hold an International Conference on the Vision for Belfast, which will be held in February 2020.

“Our ambition is to grow membership to 1000. This will allow us to refocus and strengthen our plans for making this city even greater.

Rajesh continued: “And finally, we are now in the final recruitment stages of appointing a Chief Executive for Belfast Chamber, which will give the organisation the strength and depth to deliver its ambitions.

Rajesh concluded: “Belfast has a great future ahead of it. Belfast Chamber has a key role to play in delivering that future, and I am proud to play my part in delivering that strategy for the coming year.”

The new president will be supported by the Executive Council elected unanimously, including: Christopher McCausland, Value Cabs (Senior Vice President), Michael Stewart, House Belfast (Senior Vice President), Anne McMullan, Visit Belfast (Junior Vice President), Anthony Best, Lacuna Developments (Junior Vice President), Les Hume, Dawsons Music (Honorary Secretary), Peter Legge, Grant Thornton (Honorary Treasurer), Michelle Greeves (Immediate Past President ), Gordon McElroy, MKB Law (Past President).

These senior roles will be joined by Council members: Norman Maynes (Translink), Damien Toner (Queen’s University), Alana Coyle (CBRE), John Lunn, (Lunn’s), Aileen McGroggan (Boots), Andrew Irvine (East Belfast Mission), Mark O’Brien (Bank of Ireland), Richard McMullan (Aurelius Advisory) and Gavin Annon (Mount Charles).