The British Property Federation (BPF) has announced Melanie Leech, Director General of the Food and Drink Federation (FDF), as its new Chief Executive.

Melanie, who joins the £404bn property industry after nine years at the helm of the trade body for the food manufacturing industry, will take up her new role in early 2015.

Prior to leading the FDF, Melanie held senior positions in Government, including Director of Communications at the Cabinet Office and Head of Broadcasting Policy at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. She also served for three years as Chief Executive of the Association of Police Authorities.

She replaces outgoing Chief Executive Liz Peace, who is retiring next week after 12 years at the BPF. Liz will continue to work at the BPF on a part time basis until the end of the year.

Terraced Houses-2 (PD)With just months until the next General Election, the appointment comes at a crucial time for the property industry, which employs almost 900,000 people and contributes £42bn a year to UK GDP – equal to the telecoms and transport sectors combined.

Melanie's leadership at the FDF has seen the industry established as one of the UK's key economic success stories with a vision to grow by 20% by 2020, and a number of high-profile campaigns including the ground-breaking Fivefold Environmental Ambition to reduce the sector's environmental footprint and the creation of a new degree course and Centre of Excellence for food and drink engineering at Sheffield Hallam University.

Melanie currently serves as a Trustee of the Carnegie UK Trust, is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Member of the Institute of Directors.

Melanie Leech said:

"I am delighted to be joining the British Property Federation as Chief Executive at what is a crucial and hugely exciting time for the property industry. Having spent nine incredibly rewarding years engaging with Government and others to promote the contribution of the food and drink manufacturing industry, I am looking forward to a new challenge working with another key sector for the UK economy.

"As well as being a vital part of the economy in its own right, the property industry provides a platform for virtually all business activity in the UK and will have a huge role to play in meeting the aspirations of the next Government to boost growth, deliver homes and unlock investment in our towns and cities."

Bill Hughes, Managing Director of Legal & General Property and President of the British Property Federation, said:

"Melanie has a proven track record of working both with and within government, a wealth of policy-making experience and a number of significant lobbying achievements under her belt. She is therefore perfectly placed to promote the merits of our industry and to continue the excellent work of Liz Peace, who has achieved such a huge amount during her 12 years at the BPF.

"The BPF plays a pivotal role in representing the interests of the sector at a time when the real estate industry is fast moving up the political agenda – with a heightened awareness that it is one of the major drivers of economic growth and paramount to defending the UK's position on the world stage. With a General Election approaching, now, more than ever, we need to promote the benefits of real estate and be ready to tackle any challenges that a future government might present. I welcome Melanie to the role and very much look forward to working with her over the coming months."

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