25/10/2016 - 15:02

Ai Group opens Perth office

25/10/2016 - 15:02

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Western Australia’s peak business group is facing competition for members after the Australian Industry Group established a Perth office, shortly after ending a commercial alliance with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA.

Ai Group has recruited former CCI membership manager Kristian Stratton as its inaugural WA state manager. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Western Australia’s peak business group is facing competition for members after the Australian Industry Group established a Perth office, shortly after ending a commercial alliance with the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA.

Ai Group has recruited former CCI membership manager Kristian Stratton as its inaugural WA state manager.

The Sydney-based group represents employers across a wide range of industries but has strong links to the manufacturing sector.

“There are some great stories in manufacturing in WA, we’re keen to lift national awareness of that,“ Mr Stratton told Business News.

“There is a feeling that is not being done by CCI.”

Mr Stratton said Ai Group’s size and history in manufacturing gave it a stronger platform to represent industry in Western Australia.

“We have very good links into Canberra, and very good policy forums,” he said.

Ai Group was established in 1998, when the Metal Trades Industry Association merged with the Australian Chamber of Manufacturers.

It has 250 staff and offices in every mainland state, and claims to be Australia’s only truly national employers' organisation.

That puts Ai Group in competition with the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, led by former CCI chief executive James Pearson.

ACCI describes itself as Australia's largest and most representative business association, comprising state and territory chambers of commerce and national industry associations.

Mr Stratton said Ai Group had worked with companies in WA for many years, primarily national firms with WA operations.

It has also worked with WA companies looking to expand interstate and overseas.

“Manufacturing is an area of focus, and innovation is another,” Mr Stratton said.

“We want to highlight that and put some positive stories out there.”

Until this year, it had a commercial alliance with CCI, which meant Ai Group members could use CCI services like the employee relations hotline.

Through that alliance, CCI chief executive Deidre Willmott had been a member of Ai Group’s national executive.

Mr Stratton said Ai Group may bring its commercial services, including apprentice training and legal services, to the WA market.

“If there was a commercial opportunity, we would look to bring that to WA,” he said.

CCI, which is the largest business association listed on the BNiQ Search Engine with 256 staff, offers a similar range of commercial services.

In a statement today, Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox confirmed Mr Stratton’s appointment.

“We are fortunate to have found someone who has such deep connections within the WA business community and insights into their issues as well as a long term, strong understanding of Ai Group and all that we do and stand for,” Mr Willox said.

“Kristian will head our Perth-based operations in providing advice and support to local industry and representation with Government in support of policies that are good for business, good for the community and that help the local and national economy grow.”

Mr Stratton said he was looking forward to the opportunity to engage with business throughout WA.

“Ai Group operations in WA will give business an additional channel to add their voice to important national issues,” he said.

Prior to joining Ai Group this month, Mr Stratton spent two years as WA membership manager of mining industry group AMMA, and before that spent 10 years at the CCI.

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