Watford set for 'very, very successful' period, says new Chamber of Commerce chief executive Ian Welland

Watford Observer: Ian Welland took charge of the Watford branch on January 1 following the retirement of the previous chief executive, Roger Gagan. Ian Welland took charge of the Watford branch on January 1 following the retirement of the previous chief executive, Roger Gagan.

The incoming chief executive of Watford Chamber of Commerce was attracted to the town as he feels it is set to experience "a very, very successful" period.

Ian Welland, who was the former head of the chamber in Southampton, said he felt businesses in the town had "immense opportunities" due to large investment projects like the Croxley Rail Link.

The 47-year-old took charge of the Watford branch on January 1 following the retirement of the previous chief executive, Roger Gagan.

Talking about what attracted him to the job, Mr Welland said: "One thing was the immense opportunities businesses now have in this area through all the building developments and also the outright challenge of it and really. Also to have an opportunity to be part of what it is going to be a very, very successful time for Watford.

"There are not many places in the UK that have got four or five big development big development and infrastructure projects going on. Watford is probably unique in that regard.

"That is what attracted me to the job, that Watford is a very confident place right now."

Mr Welland said he was already meeting companies that were planning to expand in the town.

He added: "We are starting to grow a lot more. We met an energy company who are looking to take an extra 40 staff on in the town. So we are creating the new economy not just encouraging the new economy to come in."

Mr Welland started his working life as a council clerk in High Wycombe before moving into the private sector and going on to manage the Octagon Shopping centre in the town.

He then went to become town centre manager of Southampton and the chief executive of the chamber of commerce. During his time on the south coast Mr Welland also oversaw the merger of Southampton chamber with neighbouring branches in Portsmouth and North Hampshire.

He said one of the areas he wants to focus on during his time at Watford is the town’s next generation of business leaders.

"I am also excited about the new generation of entrepreneurs here," said Mr Welland. "We went to a school recently and there were some brilliant, brilliant students there. They have great ideas but need help to develop those ideas."

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