Business News President’s Focus

Tony Elvin, president of Solihull Chamber of Commerce and general manager of Touchwood, reflects on his first few months as president and his own experience reopening the popular shopping centre he manages, after months of closure.

the position with care, sincerity, good humour and great commitment. I certainly hope to reflect those same values during my tenure. My own connection to the Solihull Chamber


goes back to 2009 when I opened the Village Hotel in Shirley. I was new to the area, both at home and at

work, when Chamber legend Jane Jackson took me under her wing and helped introduce me to everyone I needed to know. It was a great platform to open a new business

from and comforting to know that you had such a fantastic support network around you. After a successful three and half years at

Village in Solihull, during which time TripAdvisor even named us within their Top 50 hotels worldwide, I took on the general manager role at Hotel du Vin in Birmingham. I had enjoyed similar success linking in with

the Chamber, this time as patrons of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce where Anjum Khan and the team helped us raise our profile and find new business opportunities.

‘People are positively fizzing to be back out and about’

Six years later I was understandably eager to

reconnect with Solihull Chamber again when returning to Solihull for Touchwood. As you would expect, the Chamber has been a fantastic resource for us as we’ve navigated this choppy waters. I hope like me, you can feel the palpable buzz

of positivity that is building. When Touchwood reopened for non-essential

retail in June of last year there was an understandable nervousness from the visiting public. The centre felt very quiet despite the positive

footfall figures, there was no vaccine in sight and it was only when hospitality reopened was there any feeling of normality. Our reopening in April this year has been

quite different. People are positively fizzing to be back out and about, obviously buoyed by the success of the vaccination programme, giving us genuine hope that we’ve emerged from the last lockdown. Touchwood, like so many other businesses, is

not coming out of all this unscathed. Understandably we have lost a good number

of tenants over the past 12 months but we’ve done everything we can to support our occupiers and protect them during this time. It seems to be paying off as we’ve been

overwhelmed by the large number of lease renewals and new enquiries for this year.

12 CHAMBERLINK June 2021

Tangible reasons to feel optimistic. Within my own sphere of retail and hospitality,

stores are reporting exceptional sales figures, restaurants are taking unprecedented levels of bookings and through our Chamber networking events, a large number of businesses are declaring a wave of new sales and contracts, often through some hugely innovative pivoting of their business models as the shackles of lockdown are thrown off and people just want to get going again.

As a wider Chamber we must harness this

positivity for the tough times that lie ahead through economic recovery, Brexit and the like. Success or failure can often be defined by the

attitude we choose to take when faced with a challenge. Well, let us take these challenges head on,

with a smile on our face and some comfort in knowing that we have the support of the Chamber family behind us. Together, we can ‘Keep Business Moving’.

ust two months into the role and I am hugely excited to take over the president’s role from Robert Elliot, someone who held

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