Stephen Hand
Stephen Hand
Richard Bell

This week’s North West appointments

Stephen Hand, GRAHAM Construction

Building firm GRAHAM Construction has announced Stephen Hand at its new preconstruction director.

Stephen joined the Salford Quays-based company from VolkerFitzpatrick, where he worked as head of precontract and led on winning work and preconstruction activity for its rail division.

At GRAHAM, Stephen will focus on securing work in sectors such as rail, highway, marine and energy.

Leo Martin, the firm’s MD, said: “It is with great pleasure that I welcome Stephen to GRAHAM as our newest director.

“He brings vast experience in procurement strategy and supply chain management and his knowledge of our key sectors will be influential to success in his new role.”

He continued: “GRAHAM continues to grow as a business and we are developing our service offering to extend to many high-profile projects in the rail, construction and civil engineering industries. Stephen’s appointment signifies our ambition to deliver on exciting opportunities and to further develop our win strategy.”

Stephen commented: “I’m delighted to be working in GRAHAM’s growing civil engineering division and look forward to leading the team’s preconstruction activity proposals strategy.

“GRAHAM is an ambitious business that continues to work with traditional values. The company has collaborated on some prestigious projects in various regions nationwide, and I look forward to supporting our strategic growth strategy.”

Steve Fletcher, Vernon Building Society

Stockport-based Vernon Building Society has appointed a new CEO.

Steve Fletcher has taken over the role from outbound chief exec Mike Hanson, who held the position since 1996.

Steve was previously head of customer banking networks at Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank. He has worked in the financial sector since 1988.

He said: “I am delighted to be joining the Society at such an important and exciting time in its history.

“The mutual status of the Vernon – and the bespoke personal mortgage service that it provides – holds real appeal for me.”

He added: “I’m very much looking forward to working for a local business which has been part of our communities since 1924 and whose key focus is delivering customer value.”

Mike Hanson commented: “I’m delighted to pass the baton to my successor and wish him and the entire Vernon team every success as they continue to develop and realise our strategic vision, whilst maximising our member benefits.”

Richard Stark, KPMG

Professional services firm KPMG has appointed Richard Stark as its new head of private equity in the North.

Richard, a director in the company’s corporate finance practice, will lead on relationships with the Northern private equity community from KPMG’s Manchester office.

The role will see him coordinating KPMG’s dealflow to private equity investors and advising on any transactions involving private equity.

Richard said: “The North of England’s private equity market is thriving, with over 30 houses having on-the-ground presence and many more recognising the breadth of attractive investment opportunities in the region.

“Last year, deal volume in the North was hot on the heels of the numbers seen in London, making it one of the most buoyant markets in Europe.”

He continued: “I look forward to cementing our reputation as arguably the most active M&A practice in the region, and leveraging our unrivalled reach and expertise to support the North’s business community in capitalising on private equity’s appetite for high quality assets.”

KPMG’s national head of corporate finance, Jonathan Boyers, who is also based in Manchester, commented: “Richard’s appointment represents our confidence and commitment to the North’s private equity community, as it continues to grow despite the challenging economic conditions.

“He has extensive experience having working on a large number of deals involving private equity, and will work closely with Alex Hartley, who leads our private equity business nationally, to build on our market leading position.”

Quentin Underhill, Birchall Blackburn Law

Birchall Blackburn Law has taken on lawyer Quentin Underhill to head up its serious injury team in the North West.

Quentin joined the company from Cheshire-based CFG Law, where he was a partner. He specialises in serious and catastrophic injury cases.

He said: “Serious injury cases take time to resolve, so our role is supporting our clients as their case progresses and ensuring we do everything we can to aid their rehabilitation.

“My approach is to take an amicable and collaborative approach wherever possible. In my career, I have worked in senior roles for both claimants and defendants, so I know the strategies to employ to get the best outcomes for my clients.”

Quentin added: “I was drawn to Birchall Blackburn Law because they are a progressive firm with strong credentials in the field of serious and life changing injuries. This is great opportunity to grow and develop the team further.”

Birchall Blackburn Law partner Andy Rattray commented: “In all our injury lawyers we look for people with genuine empathy and who have a determined focus on assisting with the rehabilitation of our clients.

“Over many years, Quentin has proved himself to be a very committed lawyer who works tirelessly for clients. It’s a pleasure to welcome him to the team.”

Andrew Lawrence, Barclays

Barclays has appointed Andrew Lawrence as head of small and medium business within its Cumbria and North Lancashire team.

Andrew has worked with the company for 10 years across its retail bank, business and corporate bank operations. He also has experience in the payments industry, having previously served as the bank’s head of relationship management for Barclaycard.

Lawrence said: “I am incredibly proud of the opportunity to help small and medium businesses grow and thrive across the region I am so passionate about.

“Many businesses still don’t know if they should be expanding, contracting or sitting tight and often need a sounding board to discuss their options.”

He continued: “But one thing for certain is that SMEs are crucial to the regional economy, and at Barclays we are open for business and working hard to support our customer’s aspirations and business growth.”

Andrew will be based in Kendal and lead a team of 13 SME relationship managers.

Jon Esner, Napthens

Law firm Napthens has appointed Jon Esner as a partner within its corporate department, where he will lead its specialist commercial contracts team.

Jon has spend the last 17 years holding senior in-house legal positions at large corporates, including Co-op, Arriva and US-owned leisure company Wyndham Corporation.

His background also includes positions at law firms DLA Piper and Eversheds.

In his new role at Napthens, Jon will lead a team of three solicitors.

Napthens’ head of corporate, Keith Melling, said: “Strong commercial agreements play a key role in the success of any enterprise.

“Increased cross-border trading, changes to data protection laws and the impact of Brexit mean businesses require specialist support which is why we have invested in someone of Jon’s expertise. His experience in this arena enables us to expand our offering in this fast-moving field.”

He continued: “Given the forthcoming deadline for the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), Jon’s appointment is a timely one and will undoubtedly be of great value to our clients as they look to navigate these complex new rules.”

Suresh Bhatt, gunnercooke

Commercial law firm gunnercooke has appointed Suresh Bhatt as a partner to lead its pensions offering in the North West.

He is now a member of a five-partner team at the firm’s Manchester office that includes Ginevra Gatrell, Wyn Derbyshire, Martin Scott and Adam Bushby.

Laura Fisher, director of recruitment at gunnercooke, said: “We are delighted that Suresh has joined the gunnercooke pensions team. Suresh is widely respected in his field by clients and peers.

“He operates as a true trusted advisor to clients, which reflects gunnercooke’s values brilliantly. Over the past couple of years we have built a strong team in this field and we are looking forward to working with Suresh to develop a leading presence for pensions advice across the North West.”

Suresh commented: “I am absolutely thrilled that I am joining gunnercooke as a pensions partner.

“It’s a really exciting opportunity for me to be given the autonomy to develop client relationships and provide my pensions expertise without the constraints of a traditional law firm model. In the context of the firm’s 160 partner full service offering and the existing depth of pensions experience within the firm, the move was really a ‘no-brainer’ for me.”

Elsewhere, the company appointed tax fraud specialist Tessa Lorimer at its London office. Tessa was previously special counsel at law firm Withers LLP.

Laura Leslie, DSG

Liverpool accountancy firm DSG has taken on a new audit director.

Laura Leslie joined the company from professional services giant Deloitte LLP, where she was a senior audit manager.

Laura’s experience includes work with both privately owned and private equity-backed businesses. She specialises in dealing with organisations and individuals from the property and manufacturing sectors.

Senior partner Tony Bayliss said: “Laura’s arrival is significant as the experience she brings means that we can extend our level of support to a growing number of owner-managed businesses to include strategy planning and access to finance, in addition to the traditional compliance work.”

DSG corporate partner Andrew Moss commented: “We have been developing the audit and accounts team for some time and Laura’s appointment is a real statement of intent for how we hope to continue to grow.

“We are delighted to welcome Laura back and are excited to see what she will achieve.”

Karl Kent, Jason Roper and David Hardman, Assetz Capital

Peer-to-peer lender Assetz Capital has appointed three new starters.

Karl Kent joined the company from Lloyds Bank, where worked for two years as a relationship director in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire real estate team. He has taken on the role of remote relationship director for South Yorkshire.

Jason Roper is Assetz’ newly appointed relationship director for the North West. He previously spent 19 years a relationship director for Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

The company also took on David Hardman for the position of credit manager. His background includes 35 years with NatWest/RBS.

Assetz Capital CEO Stuart Law said: “These appointments follow another hugely successful year in 2017 as we continue to grow strongly.

“We continue to attract highly experienced team members to handle the high level of enquiries that our competitive offering is generating.”

He continued: “With companies across the country increasingly looking at peer-to-peer as a viable funding solution, we continue to strengthen our team with the appointments of Relationship Directors in the wider regions as well as continue to grow our credit team.

“With this in mind, we are delighted to welcome Karl, Jason and David on board. Each of them brings a wealth of experience to the business, and will certainly support the progression of Assetz Capital in the North West and South Yorkshire.”

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