Clare Guinness named new boss of Belfast Chamber

The new chief executive of Belfast Chamber, Clare Guinness (right), with the business group's current president, Gavin Annon.
The new chief executive of Belfast Chamber, Clare Guinness (right), with the business group's current president, Gavin Annon.

BELFAST Chamber has announced Clare Guinness will succeed Simon Hamilton as the next chief executive of the business organisation.

A former chief executive of Warrenpoint Harbour, Ms Guinness joins Belfast Chamber from the Strategic Investment Board, where she spent the past two years as innovation district director for the city.

In that role, she was responsible for bringing forward 400 acres of the city to capitalise on significant investments.

Established in 1912, Belfast Chamber now represents around 1,000 businesses throughout the city.

Simon Hamilton, who as a former DUP Minister held the finance, economy and health portfolios at Stormont, turned his back on front line politics in 2019 to become the chief executive of Belfast Chamber.

But in a surprise move in June, he announced his plans to head up Confluence Consulting, a new Holywood-based advisory firm established by the Ardmore group.

Mr Hamilton has remained in the post during the competitive recruitment process to find his successor.

A former past pupil of St Dominic’s Grammar School in West Belfast, Clare Guinness initially built her career as a finance professional with Bank of Ireland, before branching into a series of diverse senior roles that took her from Fane Valley to Warrenpoint Harbour and then on to London-based residential property firm Montreaux.

She returned to Belfast in 2021 to join the Strategic Investment Board.

“Belfast is the economic engine of Northern Ireland and plays such an important role,” said the new Chamber boss.

“Like every city it has it challenges, but we find ourselves in a unique and positive position in a whole manner of ways.

“The prospect of driving forward our inward investment proposition, supporting continued regeneration, and attracting more people to the city over the next few years is an exciting one and I am thrilled to have been appointed as chief executive of the Belfast Chamber."

Current Chamber president, Gavin Annon, said: “Clare has an outstanding track record and has the right mix of experience and professional attributes to lead the Chamber and its membership into the future."

He added: "Belfast is a dynamic city and is changing before our eyes. We have such a fantastic value proposition which the Chamber is helping drive forward to facilitate further growth, investment and job creation.

“Our contribution from the Chamber to the overall development of Belfast is central and that requires dedicated and professional leadership. Our new chief executive, Clare Guinness, will help make us the ultimate driving force in the city.”