Caroleanne Clarke has been appointed chief executive of the Enterprise Agency Brighton, Hove and Lewes.

She replaces Jane North, who announced her retirement in February after six years in the post.

Ms Clarke has a successful career in fund-raising and held senior management positions at the British Red Cross and Cancer Research.

Her new employers hope she will help the region's small businesses punch above their weight in an increasingly competitive economic climate.

Ms Clarke, who lives in Lancing, was previously chief executive at a disability association in London.

She said: "It will be wonderful to get to know people in the small business community and work together.

"My main priorities at the moment are to build on the excellent work of Jane North."

Chairman Robert Stiles said: "We anticipate the agency's continued success under her stewardship."

Thursday April 08, 2004