Sir James Wates CBE has worked for the Wates Group since 1983. He was Chairman from 2013 to 2023, transferring responsibility to his cousin Tim Wates on 4 May 2023. Sir James has been on the board since 1997.

Outside the company, James is Chairman of Family Business UK, Chairman of Vestey Holdings Ltd., Chairman of Tewke, and on the Board for The King’s Trust 50th Anniversary Campaign. He has served in the past as Chairman of the BRE (Building Research Establishment) Trust, the CBI Construction Council, the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board), Co-Chair of the government sponsored Infrastructure Exports: UK and Build UK.

Sir James feels passionately that good business, well done, is a force for good for society. In 2018 he was appointed by the government to chair the coalition group developing corporate governance principles for large private companies (the so-called ‘Wates Principles’).

In 2012 he was awarded the CBE and in 2019 was knighted for services to business and to charity.

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