John Neill has been appointed chairman of the Unipart Group and promised to continue to grow the company through training and recruiting “exceptional people”.

Mr Neill, who will continue in his role as chief executive of the company based in Garsington Road, Oxford, succeeds Lord Sheppard of Didgemere, <<ok>> who has retired from the role after serving as non-executive chairman for 16 years.

Mr Neill said: “We will redouble our efforts to manage in line with the principles of the Unipart Way and strive to develop our people and promote from within.

“We are also required to recruit exceptional people into our company and we shall seek to strengthen the board with non-executives with the appropriate skills to support our growth.”

Mr Neill, 64, joined Unipart from General Motors in 1974 when it was still British Leyland’s Parts Division.

In 1987 he led a management buyout of the company and developed it from being a supplier of car parts to become a logistics firms distributing products for a range of clients around the country as well as a training and consultancy business specialising in the Unipart Way which helps businesses become more efficient.

Mr Neill added: “I am pleased to be able to accept this appointment as chairman and deeply indebted to Lord Sheppard who has been a champion for Unipart for many years.

“I'm delighted he has agreed to accept the appointment as honorary president which means that both I and the board can continue to benefit from his advice and guidance from time to time.”

Mr. Neill is also non-executive director of Rolls-Royce and was formerly a director of the Bank of England and a non-executive director of the Royal Mail and Charter International.

Lord Sheppard said: “I have watched Unipart grow under the stewardship of John Neill from a company with one client in one sector to a leading logistics, manufacturing and consultancy group with a strong international business.

"I have no doubt John Neill is exactly the right person to succeed me as chairman and I wish him and all of his colleagues in the company continuing success in the future."