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The entrepreneur responsible for the transformation of Preston’s Guild Hall wowed a packed house of Downtown Lancashire members at an exclusive Leaders Lunch at the city’s Villa Italia restaurant last week.

Simon Rigby, who earned around £30m from utilities company Spice in 2008, gave an entertaining and inspiring presentation about his various business interests that have included agriculture, housing, engineering and most recently leisure.

He explained that his ability to spot an opportunity, and pinch other people’s ideas and do them better, and a bit of luck along the way, were reasons for his success. However, he also pointed out that in modern commerce, the ability to evolve and change direction was more important than ever.

Rigby spoke passionately about his vision for Preston, and his belief that the city has huge opportunity in the future.

“It may be competition at one level, but I’m delighted to see other restaurants and hotels invest here. We need a four – star hotel in Preston. We need to increase footfall. The city needs to become a genuine visitor destination.

“The investment we have made in the Guild Hall and Charter Theatre Complex has added significant value to the Preston offer. I hope that the momentum we have created can be the catalyst for a lot more regeneration and redevelopment in Preston going forward.”

Downtown boss Frank McKenna who hosted the event said

“Simon is a larger than life character, a greatly admired entrepreneur in Lancashire’s business community. I know that our members found his insights interesting and inspiring in equal measure, and I am sure we all took away some valuable advice from one of the most innovative business minds in the county.”