Hotels boss follows his father into Chamber presidency role

Rajesh Rana has been elected as president of the 106-year-old Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce

HOTELS boss Rajesh Rana has taken up the presidency of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce - a role filled more than a decade ago by his father Lord Diljit Rana.

One of the north’s most prominent and successful businessmen, he is director of Andras Hotels, Belfast’s largest hotel group, which owns and operates five hotels in the city and are about to launch their sixth in a £12million investment, Hampton by Hilton, in the heart of the city.

Rajesh takes the chain from Michelle Greeves, centre manager at Victoria Square, who has served one term with the 106-year-old business, which was set-up as the voice of the Belfast business community in 1912.

He said he has has come into the role with an immense sense of pride, passion and commitment, and is it "an absolute honour" to be president like his father, who held the role in 2005.

Rajesh also paid tribute and thanks to the work Michelle and her fellow Executive Council members had carried out over recent years.

He said: “Belfast has so many exciting projects planned over the next few years. The city is changing, and these are exciting times for all of us who work and live here.

“Belfast is facing a period of change and some uncertainty and as Chamber president it will be my role to find ways to help and support our members through that time.

“There is a need to maximise the benefits of the investment coming into the city for the benefit of businesses and residents. To achieve this the voice of business across all sectors must be clearly heard by government - from local elected representatives, MLAs and Westminster.

"We will be meeting with these decision-makers, building relationships with those that we have shared objectives and lobbying to ensure change happens for the good of all businesses in Belfast and Northern Ireland.

“We will also refresh and reposition our own brand identity to ensure that it stands out from the crowd and attracts further membership of impassioned people wanting to make a positive change in Belfast.”

He: “Belfast has a great future and I'm immensely proud to represent the thriving business community in our great city.”

Michelle Greeves said it had been an honour to have held the president and working among so many talented people, and she singled out the Belfast Business Awards in Saint Anne’s Cathedral as one of her highlights.

She said: “Among the challenges during the year was Belfast Chamber ending a very successful relationship with Belfast City Centre Management after many years in partnership. This was a strategic decision so that we could stand as a fully impartial organisation and able to speak freely and lobby on behalf of its members.

“We are in a time where change is necessary to ensure relevance of all organisations, and Belfast Chamber is now ready for the next exciting chapter. We are now a limited company, will soon employ our own team directly and are moving offices to establish the beginning of our future.”

Others elected at the annual meeting included Michael Stewart, House Belfast (senior vice-president), Christopher McCausland, McCausland Group (junior vice-president), Stephen Mewah, House of Fraser (junior vice-president) Peter Legge, Grant Thornton (treasurer), Les Hume, Dawsons Music (secretary), Michelle Greeves, Victoria Square (immediate past-president).

These senior roles will be joined by Executive Council members Alana Coyle (CBRE), John Lunn (Lunns), Anthony Best (Lacuna Developments), Norman Maynes (Translink).

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