Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland man to head up British Chambers

By Margaret Canning

Co Tyrone man and BDO partner Francis Martin is set to bring "calm and considered thinking" to UK business as part of a new role.

Mr Martin is unveiled today as the new president of the British Chambers of Commerce ­- becoming its first Northern Ireland-born leader.

The chartered accountant, who is originally from Moy, is a corporate finance partner at business advisers BDO in Belfast, and a former president of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce.

The British Chambers is the umbrella organisation for all 52 chambers in the UK and maintained a position of neutrality in the run-up to the EU referendum.

But it was in the headlines when its then director general, John Longworth, said he thought the UK had a "brighter future" outside the EU - prompting his resignation.

Mr Martin said today: "This is a crucial time for the UK economy and the role of the Chambers of Commerce has become vital as a result. Businesses in the UK are resilient and innovative, but it is imperative that actions needed to sustain competitive trade and support long-term growth are identified and taken by policymakers."

He succeeds Nora Senior, head of public relations firm Weber Shandwick, who stands down after three years in post.

Mr Martin added: "The British Chambers of Commerce is a powerful advocate for the business community and has strongly represented the diverse interests of our members for more than 150 years. In my tenure as president, I will work with my colleagues and Government for the benefit of businesses and communities around the country."

Mr Martin has two decades' experience in corporate finance and business strategy.

Peter Burnside, managing partner at BDO Northern Ireland, said: "Francis brings strong leadership and exceptional business acumen to the Chambers.

"His influence and measured approach in challenging situations has helped our clients and our firm to grow considerably in the last decade.

"I'm pleased that he will continue to lead our ranks, while also sharing his experience and guidance through the BCC.

"Now is the time for calm and considered thinking across all sectors in the UK and, in Francis, the Chambers have a strategist of the highest calibre at their helm.

"I wish him every success during his term as president of the British Chambers of Commerce," he added.

Mr Martin was also named Northern Ireland Dealmaker of the Year at the 2016 Dealmaker Awards.

Belfast Telegraph