Southampton BID boss steps down after six successful years

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08 March 2022

After a highly successful six-year spell Giles Semper, the Executive Director of the GO! Southampton Business Improvement District (BID) is stepping down at Easter.

A well-known figure in Southampton, Giles masterminded the city’s first successful Business Improvement District campaign in 2016 and then led the team through a successful renewal ballot late last year.

Operations Director and Deputy Executive Director Rebecca Handley has been appointed as acting Executive Director, until a replacement is found to lead the organisation through its next five-year term.

Giles is taking up a post in London and, reflecting on his time at GO! Southampton, Giles said: “The 2016 campaign was tough and we only achieved a 57% vote in favour. I am proud that, in our November renewal ballot, this figure rose to 91%. The end of a five-year term is the appropriate time to move on and let somebody else lead the BID for the next five years.

“As a Saints fan for most of my adult life, it has been an honour and a privilege to serve the business community of Southampton. Although my next job is in London I am red and white to the core, and will follow the city’s progress with keen interest. In particular I can’t wait for the City of Culture 2025 judges to open the envelope and read out our name. That will cap everything else we’ve done.

“The period of the pandemic has been immensely hard for our member businesses, and I am sorry that some of them didn’t make it through. I hope the others will come back fitter and stronger, and power the city forward. They are full of fantastic, welcoming people who have been immensely kind to me and the BID team, and appreciative of our efforts.”

Tim Keeping, Chair of the BID, commented: “Giles is a first-class professional who came to us initially on an interim basis whilst we recruited for the permanent post of Executive Director.  The city clearly got under his skin during that time as he took on the permanent position himself and was determined to stay until the renewal ballot in November last year.

“Inevitably, with his family still living in London, the daily commute started to lose its appeal after five years. Whilst we are of course sad to lose Giles from the team, on a personal level we are pleased that he has regained several hours of work-life balance a day.  We wish him all the best in his new role and look forward to still seeing him on occasion, not least when he comes down to Saint Mary’s for home games.”

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