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EXCLUSIVE first interview with the new Chief Exec of Gatwick Diamond Business



Following the announcement last week of the new Chief Executive of Gatwick Diamond Business, we met up with Jeff Alexander to find out more about the man and what he hopes to bring to the business.

So for people who don’t know you, how would you sum up your background, and your journey to get here?

I consider myself to be a professional in economic development and business support. I have work extensively in this area but not in such a focussed way. I was Executive Director of an organisation called South East England Development Agency (SEEDA). It was a regional development agency and it covered the whole of the South East of England. So this was part of that patch but so was Hampshire, and so was Kent, and so was Milton Keynes believe it or not. So I’ve worked extensively in the area, working on programs directly or indirectly to support business. From running organisations that actually provide business support – the old Business Link service as it was called – through to working to attract inward investment including foreign investment. So those are the sort of areas I’ve been involved in.

Since leaving SEEDA 8 or 9 years ago, I ran my own business and economic consultancy based from home at Horsham and that’s included a spell where I worked at the Gatwick Diamond initiative.

“I do not play the trumpet, I do not have a wide range of very bad jokes”

So you were perfectly placed then. You weren’t in a contact with another organisation or anything like that?

No, I’ve just finished off my most recent contract working in Buckinghamshire for their equivalent of Coast2Capital, their equivalent of the LEP, developing their local industrial strategy which is something Coast2Capital are going to have to do very soon.

What’s great about this job is that, having applied my trade almost across the country, to be working in what I now strongly consider to be my home, and being able to build on relationships I already had, it’s just a superb opportunity for me.

It’s really good how I’ve been welcomed back because as you say, I do know a lot of the people, so coming into something where you’ve got that framework of knowing the issues, having worked extensively for example on the Gatwick Airport third runway issue and also knowing the people gives you a framework and that’s great.

It’s the chance of a lifetime for me really to bring together my professional expertise and my commitment to a place.

How has the reaction been for you so far?

It’s a mixture. Very, very welcoming. Almost a welcome back from the people I know, including the partner organisations which are important.

We’re a business membership organisation but our partners are the local authorities, Coast2Capital which I’ve mentioned. So, a strong welcome back from those and from the businesses I know. And then a warm welcome but ‘How on earth are you going to step into Jeremy’s shoes?’ from the business members who I don’t yet know so well.

Is that a concern though, because when you have people who are very exuberant characters, can that sometimes detract from actually what the purpose of the job is?

People do things in their own way and I am a different character to Jeremy. A phrase I will not use is that ‘I’m stepping into Jeremy’s shoes’ – because I’m not, I wouldn’t attempt to. I do not play the trumpet, I do not have a wide range of very bad jokes.

But nevertheless, I’ve actually learnt a lot from Jeremy over the years in terms of his style, and his openness, and his ability to engage in a relaxed way with businesses. And I find that, coming out of a bit more of a – the start of my career was a public sector career – a bit more starchy. What I’ve learnt with people like Jeremy and the businesses I deal with it’s a much more relaxed style and it goes down very well with businesses and particularly smaller business. So you have serious discussions with them, but you do it in an informal way.

What’s the aim then Jeff? Where are you hoping to take Gatwick Diamond now?

The aim is to develop the organisation further, to appeal to a wider range of members – particularly to appeal to an increasing number of larger members. I don’t necessarily mean the very big corporates, we have some great corporate members like Gatwick Airport and Canon and Elekta, but to appeal to some of the more medium sized businesses and to look at our offer and adapt it to the different requirements of different types of businesses.

And then it’s to work out, with businesses, what the challenges are that they face. But clearly there’s going to be a big challenge with Brexit. It’s bound to happen and it doesn’t really matter what your position is.

Whether you support it or not there are going to be issues for businesses, particularly the businesses that trade internationally. So that’s an area where we could look to develop our offer.

“There’s going to be a big challenge with Brexit”

We work primarily on a networking basis, so what we can do to help businesses learn from each other – bring in expertise from outside where we need to – and then help businesses to develop. But also working closely with the Gatwick Diamond initiative, which is our sister organisation in many ways, is just to promote the Gatwick Diamond as an economic area. Because we need to attract new business, new investment.

Any economy, including ours, is losing jobs all the time. An economy is never full because of the rate at which you lose jobs, and the trick is how you attract new jobs that are actually a better quality than those you’re losing and how then do you enable local people to fill those higher skilled jobs. That sort of goes above our day to day remit in terms of the work we do with individual businesses, but it’s an area I’d certainly like to develop.

You can find out more about Gatwick Diamond Business and how it can help your company here.


Deliveroo search for riders in Crawley as lunch orders triple

More work available for riders at Deliveroo as orders across Crawley rocket. The company also reveals Crawley’s most popular dishes.



Deliveroo PR library [Imagery © Mikael Buck / Deliveroo]

Exclusive new figures released today by Deliveroo reveal the company’s rapid growth across Crawley in the past 6 months.

As Deliveroo continues to grow its service in the area, the company is looking for more riders to deliver meals across the city. Deliveroo recently launched Marketplace+, which has seen an influx of traditional takeaways joining the British food-delivery company.

More news: Police release CCTV image following racially aggravated assault in Horley

In the past year orders in Crawley have rocketed. Deliveroo data has shown that locals are embracing food delivery, with lunch orders increasing by 297% in the last 6 months – with Sweet Chilli Chicken from ‘Kokoro’ taking the top spot for most popular lunch order in the city.

The new data also reveals Saturday at 7:55pm is the most popular time for Crawley locals to order from Deliveroo.

Crawley’s most popular dishes:
• Sweet Chilli Chicken from Kokoro
• Boneless Banquet from KFC
• Creams Soft Serve Vanilla from Creams
• Steak & Cheese Sub from Subway
• Cod and Chips from Mr Chips

Deliveroo has been delivering meals in the city for over a year, working with over 30 restaurants. With the launch of Marketplace+ Deliveroo is expecting this number to double by the end of 2019.

Deliveroo PR library [Imagery © Mikael Buck / Deliveroo]

This increase in order growth means that Deliveroo is able to offer more well-paid, flexible work that allows people to combine work with other responsibilities, for example studying. On average across the UK, riders earn over £10 per hour. Deliveroo is now looking for more riders, and current riders who successfully refer someone new to Deliveroo in Crawley will receive up to £400.

Dan Warne, UK and Ireland Managing Director said:

“We’re proud to be offering more locals in Crawley well-paid flexible work and have been astounded by the huge growth we’ve seen in the city”

Earlier this year Deliveroo provided its 50,000 riders around the world with free insurance to protect them and their earnings if they’re involved in an accident.

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