Head of national commercial team leaps into retail enterprise board role at GFirst LEP

Dorian Wragg

Dorian Wragg, Partner and Head of the National Commercial Team at Chartered Surveyor firm, Bruton Knowles, has stepped up to the helm of Gloucestershire’s Local Enterprise Partnership, GFirst as new Chair of the  Retail and the High Street Business Group.

In this role, he will lead a team of key stakeholders who champion independent retailers across Gloucestershire’s rural village high streets, town, and city centres to revitalise the local economy, preserve jobs and boost community spirit.

The objective of the Group is to build up resilience within the sector, by bringing together the best knowledge and operational experience whilst also sharing good practice.

Dorian – who operates out of Bruton Knowles’ Gloucester office – takes over from incumbent Nigel Jobson, Chief Commercial Officer at social media management platform firm, Maybe*.

With years’ experience of managing office, industrial, retail, licensed and leisure commercial property portfolios, and developing the National Commercial Property Team offer at Bruton Knowles, Dorian brings great insight into the challenges that High Streets face today.

The global pandemic has fast-tracked many trends, including the switch to online trading – up by around 10% compared to pre-lockdown levels – and the reduction of 40-50% in town and city centre footfall.

Tackling these issues and creating the right climate to achieve re-balanced local economies post Covid-19, requires strong local leadership, which Dorian is well placed to deliver given his extensive market knowledge of urban hubs across Gloucestershire.

He takes the helm of GFirst LEP’s Retail and the High Street Business Group hot on the heels of Government’s Levelling Up Strategy announcement, which pledges “pride of place” and to “increase people’s satisfaction with their town centre and engagement in local culture and community.”

Speaking about his appointment, Dorian comments: “As a group we need to move quickly and with some intent to look at how we aid retail recovery right across the county. That means finding practicable solutions that address the issue as a whole, across all developments and all locations. And engaging with existing and successful retail brands already proud to call Gloucestershire home, to draw on their knowledge and expertise.”

The Retail and the High Street Business Group is one of ten that sit under the GFirst LEP, established in 2011 as one of 38 LEPs in England. It is a partnership organisation which brings together Gloucestershire’s business community alongside the public and voluntary sectors, to secure Government funding and ensure the county’s economy thrives.

To date, GFirst LEP has created jobs and business opportunities for thousands of people, securing over £100m in Local Growth Funding to invest across the area.

David Owen CEO GFirst LEP said; “We’re delighted to welcome Dorian as Chair of the Retail and the High Street Business Group, his breadth of experience and working knowledge of the county will be invaluable to the group and help us to shape and strengthen the future of the retail and high street offer within Gloucestershire.”