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A former president of Automotive Tier 1 supplier Futaba UK has been named chief executive of SMMT Industry Forum, the automotive industry's productivity improvement and training business, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said.

Paul Heard replaces Chris Owen who is "stepping down to pursue new challenges" after eight years.

He has 20 years' experience in management and consultancy companies including EV Cargo, QT Consulting, Futaba subsidiaries and Tenneco Automotive and, SMMT said, "a track record of heading multi million pound businesses within complex supply chain ecosystems and a wealth of experience delivering successful business transformation programmes across multiple sectors".

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes said: "I'd like to welcome Paul to SMMT and to Industry Forum. We are going to make full use of his consultancy expertise and extensive experience in key industries."

"I would also like to thank Chris for his dedication and many successes, not least his tireless work on the Automotive Council, helping deliver millions of pounds of funding to boost supply chain competitiveness via schemes including the Long Term Automotive Supply Chain Competitiveness and National Manufacturing Competitiveness Levels programmes."

Heard officially starts on 1 June and will work closely with Owen, who will remain at Industry Forum on a part time basis until August.

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By GlobalData

Industry Forum was established by SMMT, vehicle manufacturers and government to improve the competitiveness of UK manufacturing. It has more than 150 cross sector industry specialists and is active in 30 countries.

Over the past 20 years, it has delivered more than 400 competitiveness and productivity programmes and trained over 25,000 people.