New commercial director takes helm at SS Great Britain to steer its ambitious growth plans

January 8, 2019

Bristol most-popular visitor attraction, Brunel’s SS Great Britain, has appointed Phil Smith as its new commercial director to strengthen its senior management team.

Mr Smith’s arrival from the Ironbridge Gorge Museum near Telford, where he was deputy chief executive, coincides with SS Great Britain’s nomination for the prestigious European Museum of the Year Award 2019. 

The shortlisting comes hot on the heels of it landing the ‘Best Tourism Project 2018’ from the British Guild of Travel Writers and follows the opening last April of its £7.2m Being Brunel, the world’s only museum dedicated to the exploring the life and legacy of the engineering genius Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

The SS Great Britain Trust said Mr Smith had been selected to help drive its ambitious growth plans, including developing opportunities around the newly revived Albion Dry Dock, and building on the quality and profitability of its visitor experience.

It is also widening its retail and catering offer as well as launching new venue hire packages capitalising on the stunning interior of Being Brunel.

Mr Smith, pictured, brings with him substantial retail and museum sector insight and experience of driving commercial innovation for income generation. Prior to working at the Ironbridge Gorge Museum, he held senior roles at National Museum Wales and Te Papa Tongarewa National Museum of New Zealand.

He said: “This is an exciting opportunity to contribute to the organisation’s growth plans by building on the continued success of Being Brunel while also fully embracing the opportunities presented by the Albion Dry Dock development.”  

SS Great Britain supports around 180 jobs and contributes in the region of £9m a year to the local economy a year – a figure expected to have risen with the opening of Being Brunel. The SS Great Britain is already rated as one of the UK’s top 10 museums by the public on TripAdvisor with around a fifth of its visitors overseas tourists.

Some 40 visitor attractions across Europe have been shortlisted for the European Museum of the Year Award 2019 including the British Motor Museum in Gaydon, Warwickshire, and the D-Day Portsmouth Museums.



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