THE boss of Jaguar Land Rover has urged Dorset businesses to “think big, work hard” and have “concrete plans”.

Jeremy Hicks, managing director of Jaguar Land Rover UK, saluted the efforts of small and medium sized enterprises in the county.

He was the guest speaker at the annual Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) president’s lunch, which drew 166 members, premier partners, patrons and guests to the Highcliff Marriott Hotel in Bournemouth.

It was hosted by DCCI president Paul Collins, operations director at the Westover Group, which has a Jaguar dealership in Poole.

Mr Hicks said: "Think big, work hard and have concrete plans to achieve really big goals. Have a great sense of self-belief and you can achieve your goals. If you think you can, you will. If you don't, you won't."

He added: "I take my hat off to small businesses.

“You guys know the importance of cash flow management more than anyone."

Mr Hicks told of the success of Jaguar Land Rover in recent times, particularly since Tata motors bought the company from Ford in 2008.

Since 2013, sales have increased by 19 per cent worldwide, to 425,000 vehicles. Sales of Jaguars stood at 76,668 – the best since 2005 – and Land Rover sales reached a record 348,338.

The company recently began filling 1,700 jobs at its Solihull plant.

The lunch also heard from DCCI chief executive Ian Girling and senior vice-president Rob Mitchell, who is commercial director of AFC Bournemouth.

Ian Girling also outlined DCCI’s plans, including the new Dorset Growth Hub and the development of international trade services.

He added: "Business confidence seems to be improving and many businesses we talk to in the chamber are reporting much stronger sales and profit figures.

Apprentice of the year

AN 18-YEAR-OLD employee from a Poole livery was named Dorset’s Apprentice of the Year at the DCCI President’s Lunch.

Scott Etches, of Ten Acre Livery, received the Warde Apprentice Award.

Scott beat 30 rivals to the title. Judges cited his professionalism, customer services, hard work and enthusiasm.

Scott, who was accompanied by business owner Alex Bird and manager/trainer Sophie Kleinschmidt, said: “I was surprised to win but it is down to the good training I have received and opportunities I have been given.”