A COFFEE connoisseur is taking the reigns to champion businesses in York and North Yorkshire.

Laurence Beardmore, a director of York Emporium, the York-based coffee roasters and tea specialists, has been elected as the incoming president of the York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce.

He succeeds Andrew Digwood, a partner at law firm Rollits LLP who has held the post for two years.

Laurence said he was 'thrilled' to be representing members as the region looks towards economic recovery.

"Covid has impacted our region in ways which would have been unimaginable when Andrew took over the presidency in 2019 and I want to say what a wonderful job he has done in challenging times to ensure the business voice has been heard by regional and national policy makers.

“As vice-president I saw first-hand just how much he and the Chamber have done to support members and the wider business community over the Covid crisis. Daily updates directing businesses to advice and guidance, providing timely communication through challenging conditions, crippling uncertainty and volatility as the virus and the Government’s response to it evolved."

He thanked businesses for responding to surveys and informing the Chamber of issues and praised local councils for their collaborative spirit.

“I am confident we can build our way out of the pandemic, and with the vaccine roll-out helping to increasing confidence, businesses can start to plan with more certainty. I am also looking forward to working with our universities, colleges and training providers to help shape the skills agenda so that it can respond to the needs of business and raise productivity across the region.

“I will continue to support the ambition set out by the York & North Yorkshire LEP to become the UK’s first carbon-negative economy as we move towards a more sustainable future, and Andrew’s work with stakeholders to secure devolution for North Yorkshire will provide greater control over our destiny and significant future business opportunities.

“The quality and capability of the business and people in our region is world class and that, coupled with devolution and the recovery strategies being implemented locally and nationally, will unleash our innovators, entrepreneurs and wealth creators; delivering jobs, industries and communities that will power North Yorkshire into the future.”