An automotive industry veteran has been named as the new chair of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), succeeding Sir Nigel Knowles in the role.

James Muir, former head of group national sales at Volkswagen and chair of trustees at the Astrea Academy Trust will chair his first meeting next week (14 January 2018).

The LEP chair is responsible for representing private-sector businesses and setting the strategic direction for the economic growth of the Sheffield City Region.

Dan Jarvis, mayor of the Sheffield City Region, headed the interview panel. He said: “This role is a crucial one and in James we have an outstanding candidate for the job. I look forward to working closely with James and fellow LEP board members to drive economic growth, create new jobs and promote our region around the world.

“With James’s business expertise, passion for our region and his dedication to social mobility, I’m confident he will provide strong leadership to the LEP, be the voice of our businesses and represent the Sheffield City Region on a Northern, national and international level.”

James Muir joined Volkswagen Group as president and chief executive of SEAT in 2009 before taking up responsibility VW Group’s owned national sales companies across more than 20 countries worldwide in mid-2013, retiring from the group in December 2018. He has also previously held roles at Mazda and the Ford Motor Company.

Muir added: “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.”

Previous LEP board chair Sir Nigel Knowles, the chairman of law firm DWF and former global co-chairman of DLA Piper, stepped down when his term of office came to an end in December 2018.

Sir Nigel will now take on a role as special advisor to the mayor on trade and investment, and continue to represent Sheffield City Region at events such as the annual MIPIM property conference in Cannes.

Source: Stephen Farrell, Insider Media, 11th January 2019