UK’s Harrogate Convention Centre announces new director Europe

The UK’s Harrogate Convention Centre has revealed exclusively to EW‘s sister title CN that Paula Lorimer will take over as the company’s new director in early 2019.

Lorimer brings more than two decades of high-level event industry experience to the Harrogate job, including the role of deputy CEO at Manchester Central and Sales Director for International Confex, one of Europe’s biggest event industry expos.

Lorimer commented: “It’s massively exciting to be joining Harrogate Convention Centre, a venue with an excellent reputation situated in one of the country’s most vibrant and historic towns. My role will focus on delivering exceptional facilities and service to our customers, which in turn will generate additional economic success for Harrogate and the surrounding area.

“I want to make sure the hotels are full of high-spending delegates and the restaurants are busy. I want to create new jobs for the town and change the perception of the north. Yorkshire is a very special part of the UK and I want people to engage with it.”

Last year saw Harrogate Borough Council, which owns the Convention Centre, commission a business study into ambitious redevelopment plans for the site. Lorimer said she had ‘come in at the right stage’.

She added: “I know given the new plans that are in the pipeline, Harrogate Convention Centre will flourish by attracting more high-profile conferences and exhibitions than ever before. Furthermore, these additional high-spending delegates will fill local hotels and restaurants and create new jobs for the region.”

In a prolific and successful career spanning almost four decades, the new Harrogate boss rose from a telesales position to turning around the fortunes of some of the biggest players in the event industry.

During her seven years at Manchester Central, Lorimer played a pivotal role in the business’s redevelopment and the rebranding from G-Mex, and was responsible for reinvigorating the venue’s fortunes with a 35% increase in sales.

Richard Cooper, Chair of Harrogate Convention Centre Board, said: “Paula is a great addition to the team and will be a powerful ambassador for the Convention Centre and the Harrogate district as a venue.

“With her experience in the conference and exhibition sector and her success in winning events, she is the ideal choice to consolidate and grow the significant economic impact of the Centre achieved by her predecessor Simon Kent.”

Lorimer is expected to take up her new position at the Convention Centre in early February. She will replace outgoing director Simon Kent, who has been in charge at Harrogate since 2013.


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