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Sussex business chief's shock exit stuns bosses
Business leaders have reacted with shock after Sussex’s chamber of commerce announced the departure of its chief executive.
Sussex Enterprise last night announced that after an “extensive review of all operations”, boss Mark Froud would be “moving on to new challenges”.
Trevor Freeman, chairman of Brighton’s Federation of Small Businesses, said he was “very surprised” by the news.
He said: “I personally thought that Mark did a really good job. He was excellent at what he did.
“We had noticed that he had stopped coming down to the local economic partnership meetings so we were wondering what was going on.
“But you always knew where you were with Mark and it’s certainly a shame that he’s gone.”
Mr Froud led Sussex Enterprise for almost ten years after first joining in 1996 as director of economic research.
In 2001 he became director of policy responsible for planning and media relations before becoming chief executive in 2002.
When the coalition government scrapped regional development agencies, Sussex Enterprise lost a contract to deliver advisory services and a large chunk of its income.
Mr Froud caused controversy in February when he said residents and businesses in East Sussex had “lower aspirations” than those in West Sussex.
Peter Jones, chairman of East Sussex County Council, said he had disagreed with Mr Froud on many occasions but was sad to see him go. He said: “When he said what he said about East Sussex we had a face-to-face conversation and sorted it out. That’s the way it was with Mark. He has put a lot of effort into his work so I’m surprised that he has gone.
“But I would say that in Sussex we are seeing a resurgence of local chambers of commerce so I think Sussex Enterprise now has to find a real role for itself.”
A Sussex Enterprise spokeswoman said: “Sussex Enterprise has over the last few months undertaken an extensive review of all operations and concluded that major changes are needed to re-emphasise and expand our core membership services.
“In today’s difficult trading conditions companies of all sizes need the opportunities to come together regularly and share information, learn from each other and find new ways to improve their businesses.
“Mark Froud who led the organisation for many years will be moving on to new challenges and we all wish him well.”