A BUSINESS set up by the Lancaster District Chamber of Commerce has been abandoned after proving unprofitable.

More than 90 members of the local chamber recently gathered to hear president, Geoff Harker, explain the reasons behind the decision to abandon its interests as a training provider.

At the Annual General Meeting, Mr Harker announced a trading loss for the financial year, attributed to poor performance of its training operations.

He explained that over the past twelve months the board has been closely monitoring the training operation, resulting in a prudent decision to move out of training and minimise further losses. He added that members of the Chamber's staff and Board had worked towards transferring the training contract and a number of staff to other training providers.

He explained that the drop in income was due to the reduction in the number of unemployed people going into training, the way existing government programmes are funded, and a change in the contracting arrangements as a result of the formation of the new Learning and Skills Council.

Despite the reported losses, company secretary, Philip Oglethorpe, reassured members that the chamber remained financially healthy.

Geoff Harker said: "With its reduced staffing, we will be re-focusing activities to concentrate on improving services to members. We need all of the members to play their part in the life of the chamber. "The board believes that the chamber can succeed in its second century of existence, but that will depend very much on the involvement of Lancaster district business coming together to shape the future of the local economy."

The AGM also confirmed the appointment of two new directors to the chamber. Jonathan Timmis, a partner with local accountants, Dodd & Co, and Joan Wilkinson of Imperial Home Decor Group (UK) Ltd. Mr John Gott OBE retired from the board after serving as a director for eight years and a member for over 30 years.