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Downtown announces new Manchester chair

Manchester hospitality, food & drink guru Thom Hetherington, has been named as the new chair of Downtown in Business Manchester.

Manchester hospitality, food & drink guru Thom Hetherington, has been named as the new chair of Downtown in Business Manchester.

Thom, 50, was one of founders of Restaurant magazine and the 50 Best Restaurants in the World awards, and latterly built a world class portfolio of hospitality events as owner of the NRB exhibition. As founder of Landing Light he is a consultant, commentator and community builder in food and drink and art and culture in the North of England. He is also Exec Chairman of Easel Projects, which encompasses Manchester Art Fair, The Manchester Contemporary, EASEL, EASEL Bespoke, Salon Hang and the philanthropic Manchester Contemporary Art Fund.

He is currently a Trustee of Manchester Art Gallery Trust and The Tim Bacon Foundation, an early-stage investor and advisor in start-ups including Anthem Projects and Pizza Luxe, and sits on Manchester’s Business Sounding Board. Via Landing Light Thom advises national hospitality operators on their Northern expansion plans, as well as public institutions, major property developers and city councils on food and drink strategy, cultural engagement and commissions, and placemaking.

In addition, Thom judges awards including the National Restaurant Awards, the Top 50 Gastropubs, the Manchester Food and Drink Festival and the New Light Art Prize, and has reviewed for respected guides including Mr and Mrs Smith. He is also a regular speaker, panelist and chair at industry conferences, and has contributed on Northern culture and gastronomy for titles ranging from Caterer and Restaurant magazine to The New Yorker, The Guardian, The Telegraph and Le Monde, as well as appearing on BBC 1 Breakfast news and BBC Radio 4.

Thom has also scooped several personal awards in recent years, including being crowned the Manchester Evening News ‘Cultural Icon’ in 2016, receiving the ‘Outstanding Achievement’ award at the 2019 Manchester Food and Drink Festival, and winning “Man of the Year” at the 2021 City of Manchester Business Awards.

DIB Managing Director Chris McKenna said: “We are delighted to welcome Thom to the team. His experience in the visitor economy sector – but also his wider business knowledge – will add great value to DIB and our network.”

Thom added: “Downtown in Business is one of the most dynamic business organisations around. Having been a member for several years, it is great to have the opportunity of working with the team to support their work in Manchester and indeed the rest of the country.”

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