Business leaders in Greater Birmingham said that Andy Street had been an “outstanding ambassador” for the region after he announced that he is resigning as chair of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership. Mr Street (pictured) said he is standing down because he had applied to be the Conservative candidate for the West Midlands Mayoral election next year. The party is expected to announce the candidate at next month’s conference at the ICC in Birmingham and should he be successful, Mr Street has agreed to stand down from his role at John Lewis.

Paul Faulkner, chief executive of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (GBCC), said: “Andy Street has been an outstanding ambassador for the region. “He is a consummate businessman as 10 successful years as managing directing of John Lewis bear testimony. Andy has overseen a 67 per cent increase in sales at the department store chain - to £3.7bn last year - since he became managing director in 2007.

“And during his time at GBSLEP he has helped to unite and guide the region through some difficult times.

“The Chamber gave Andy the President’s Award at this year’s annual dinner and we were honoured to have him as our guest speaker at the previous year’s annual dinner. His words then demonstrated the passion he has for Greater Birmingham when he said: ‘Now is our time – we have to seize the moment and be ambitious.’

“That could well be Andy’s parting legacy as chairman of the GBSLEP. The mayoral election will have an eight-month campaign which will give us plenty of time to have a constructive debate with all candidates.

“However, it is imperative that all of the good work carried out by the Midlands Engine and West Midlands Combined Authority continues apace and is not distraction by the mayoral campaign.” 

Sion Simon (Lab), MEP for the West Midlands), and Birmingham City University director Beverley Nielsen (LibDem) have also announced they are standing in the mayoral election.

The GBSLEP announced that Mr Street’s deputy Steve Hollis will step into the chair for the next board meeting.