Belfast Chamber chief Simon Hamilton in surprise departure to head up new business consultancy

Announcing the creation of Confluence Consulting are its new head Simon Hamilton (centre) with Ardmore Group chief executive John Keane and its PR division LK Communications' managing director Nikki Larkin
Gary McDonald Business Editor

FORMER Stormont economy, health and finance minister Simon Hamilton has quit his job as chief executive of Belfast Chamber of Commerce after four years to head up a new strategy and advisory firm.

He will front Confluence Consulting, a new standalone division of integrated marketing, public relations and eCommerce group Ardmore in Holywood.

The new business will support companies and government as part of a partnership approach to advance and progress shared agendas, and will operate within the group, which incorporates advertising arm Ardmore, PR specialist LK Communications and eCommerce division Built for Growth (BFG) Digital.

Hamilton's move has surprised the business community - just as was his move away from politics and the DUP in 2019 after having served the party in various roles since 2005.

During his tenure with Belfast Chamber, he was been widely acclaimed for his work successfully influencing policy makers and championing and supporting the needs of business throughout the pandemic and beyond.

Wishing him well in his new venture, Chamber president Alana Coyle said: “During Simon’s time as chief executive, our membership has grown considerably and diversified to include members from a cross-section of Belfast’s business community.

“He has been instrumental in Belfast Chamber’s positive development and he has helped steer it through some challenging times for the city, especially during the pandemic which adversely impacted businesses across Belfast.

“That our organisation continued to grow during those difficult couple of years is testimony to Simon’s leadership at a time when many members needed it most.”

The process to find a new Chamber chief executive has already commenced.

Ardmore Group chief executive John Keane said: “In a rapidly changing, challenging and often confusing world, businesses and government need powerful, impactful engagement, greater understanding and more meaningful partnerships to tackle issues and to find solutions that drive economic growth and investment, and support positive societal development.

“Our new consultancy division Confluence will be spearheaded by one of the region’s most experienced and insightful leaders in business and politics in Simon Hamilton, who will be a powerful linchpin, platform and conduit between business and government that will drive positive, impactful change and progress.”

Mr Hamilton said: “At times, politics and business can seem like they operate in entirely different worlds, but what I've realised during my over 20 years working in both, is that industry needs to interact closely with government and that success in our society is frequently constructed upon foundations built by both the public and private sectors.

“Despite that important interface, business and government can struggle to work together effectively to achieve our shared aims. Confluence Consulting is about working with leaders in the public, private and third sectors to help them work better together.

“Northern Ireland feels like it is on the cusp of an exciting period. We have issues to overcome, but there is renewed international interest in our region as well as new economic opportunities. Confluence is passionate about realising this potential and I look forward to working with our clients to achieve that common goal.”