Colin Simpson, business development director at Tomlinson Hall, is the new chair of the specialist Trade Group, part of the North East Automotive Alliance (NEAA).

An active member of the NEAA since its inception, Colin has also supported the Trade Group since its launch in 2019. Colin, takes the reins from Chris Black, director of automotive business development at TR Fastenings, who stood down at the end of 2021.

A well-known and vocal advocate for the North East automotive industry, having held the position as Northern Powerhouse Export Champion for five years, Colin has been appointed to help steer the Trade Group, which is a key part of the NEAA’s 2019, five-year strategy to better understand and support the trade activity of its members.

His role will focus on how best the Trade Group can assist members as they navigate the on-going challenges the sector continues to face as a result of Covid-19 and Brexit, both of which have resulted in major supply chain weakness. Furthermore, the current Russia Ukraine conflict is putting additional strain on the sector as manufacturers face soaring costs and more supply chain shortages. The Trade Group will give advice and guidance on how to work through this together.

Colin Simpson, said: “Tomlinson Hall is a great example in the region of a company that is excelling at export and, as such, I hope to bring some of my own personality into the position and co-opt some of my network into assisting conversations and developing the Trade Group’s topics during my tenure.

“Having been a member of the Trade Group since its beginnings, I know, first-hand, it is an ideal platform to share experiences and transfer knowledge for the betterment of all. Doing so, provides illuminating insight into best practices other companies are successfully implementing, allowing fellow members to evolve their export offering to the highest possible level.

“It is more important than ever that businesses work together, transferring knowledge to support inward investment in the UK and to transform the way we export to suit the needs of the changing environment. Together, we are stronger, and Tomlinson Hall is happy to offer any exporting advice to members.”

In a further sign the Trade Group is focused on its future objectives and direction, members are being asked to participate in a survey to gather refreshed intelligence on their export strategies in 2022 and beyond, in addition to exploring the most valued benefits of the Trade Group. The results will be used to shape the ever-evolving strategy of the Trade Group, as it continues to pivot to meet the requirements of its membership.

Paul Butler, chief executive, NEAA, said: “With a strong export division at Tomlinson Hall, Colin takes great pride in sharing success stories and offering practical advice, based on real experience, to help other companies in the North East to see the value in exporting and the best routes to do so. As chair of the Trade Group, Colin has a wealth of knowledge to share and his experience as an SME in the North East which now successfully exports, offers additional learning.”

Launched in the March 2015, the NEAA is an industry-led and membership-based cluster, established to support the sustainable economic growth and competitiveness of the North East automotive sector. Today, with over 300 members, the NEAA is the largest automotive cluster in the UK and is widely recognised as an exemplar cluster.