John Lewis’s head of retail development Jeremy Collins has taken over as BCSC president today.

He is taking over from previous head Martyn Chase who is head of retail at DTZ.

Collins said his agenda would be to develop a ‘greater mutual understanding of the business needs of retailers, property investors and developers’.

He said: ‘Having worked in retail property for over 25 years, it is a great privilege to be made BCSC president. Not only is the recognition of peers and colleagues very rewarding, but tied-in with that honour is a tremendous sense of responsibility.

'I see my term as president as a great opportunity to bring the retail sector into the fold, and I hope to create a better understanding between the property industry and retailers.’

‘My priorities are to see BCSC grow and develop as a centre of thought leadership and research; to strengthen relationships with partners, especially local authorities and other industry bodies; and to reinforce our standing and influence with government. It will be vital to take the lead on the difficult issues facing the industry in these challenging times.

'We need to be looking for short-term solutions to the problem of rising property costs and facilitating a way forward on business rates, service charges and affordable rents.

'We also need to be looking for longer-term solutions to unlock the next wave of private sector investment in retail-led regeneration and make the case to the public sector that this is a shared responsibility.’

Collins has previously held a place on the BCSC’s government affairs committee and he has been on the advisory board for five years and executive board for the past three years. He became junior vice president in 2007.

He said he was also keen to maintain BCSC’s longer-term focus in the areas of education and training, sustainability, and community engagement.

He said: ‘Recent presidents, John Bullough and Martyn Chase, have achieved greater clarity on important sustainability issues, and developed guidance and practical solutions such as the BCSC Sustainability Charter.

'It is crucial that this work continues, and I am looking forward to seeing the results of our work with the BPF and BRC on energy performance certificates and carbon reduction credits.

'I am also keen to maintain our commitment to skills and community engagement through our relationship with Business in the Community.

'Martyn Chase has undertaken tremendous work with BITC on the Talent Wall initiative, designed to engage and motivate young people in our communities as they embark on their careers.’