People on the move: UKFast; Benoit Properties; Visualsoft; Hitchcock Wright and Partners

Gail Jones

Cloud and colocation firm UKFast has announced the appointment of two managing directors as it embarks on an ambitious growth plan.

The move sees the business formally split into two arms with current MD Jonathan Bowers making a lateral move to head up the firm’s fast-growing Enterprise division, while co-founder Gail Jones takes on the role of managing director to facilitate the business’s next stage of growth.

Chief executive Lawrence Jones said: “Sir Richard Branson once explained to me how he divided his companies in two when they reached 100 strong. It was Richard too who helped me choose Jonathan as MD, I was too close to see who should be my successor.

“Since Jonathan’s appointment in 2012 we have grown from 100 to 400 teammates, more than doubled turnover and quadrupled profits. It was obvious that it was time to reapply the formula.”

Bowers, said: “In the past five years we have seen the business go from strength to strength. To continue this momentum, we’re taking the exciting step of splitting into two parts, to ensure that the clients of both areas get the care and attention they require.”

Lawrence Jones added: “For the last six months we have been recruiting for an MD for Enterprise and we’ve seen over 200 candidates, none of whom I felt were as well placed as Jonathan to take Enterprise division forward. He knows our customers incredibly well and understands our culture better than anyone.

“UKFast continues to grow in spite of pressure from AWS and Azure, and with the enterprise side of the business responsible for 43%, I realised the perfect scenario would be for Jonathan to take Enterprise and Gail to take the role of Managing Director of UKFast.”

Gail Jones said: “I am very excited to taking on the managing director role working closely with both Lawrence and Jonathan to continue to provide the greatest level of service in the industry.

“Across all our companies we’ve grown to more than the £50 million turnover mark and I am excited to take on one of those brands to ensure our customers get exactly what they need, whilst pushing the business to the next level.”

UKFast posted turnover of £40m in 2016-17 with EBITDA of £17.6m – up 10.6% on the previous year.


Benoit Properties International, the property investment specialist, has made two new appointments at its Manchester office as it continues its expansion.

Matthew Walsh, who joins as marketing manager, has over seven years’ experience in marketing roles. He started his career in the sports sector and worked for a publishing company before moving into property. He joins Benoit from student accommodation specialist Luxome.

“Benoit has established a worldwide reputation as a trusted source for property investment and is experiencing rapid growth. It’s an opportunity to build the brand internationally and drive growth in new markets,” says Matthew.

Meanwhile Harry Stratford has joined as a property consultant, liaising with Benoit’s international clients. He previously worked at finance company Zuto. Stratford says: “It’s an exciting time to be joining Benoit. I’m looking forward to working with our client base of international property investors, helping them to build their property portfolios and visiting different locations worldwide to assess local investment opportunities.”

Matt Lavin, director of Benoit Properties International, says: “Benoit’s UK operation has seen steady growth since its launch two years ago, which reflects the strong interest in property investment at home and overseas, and we continue to expand the team.

“The appointment of Matthew and Harry will help us to build relationships with our clients around the world and raise our profile internationally.”


E-commerce and digital agency Visualsoft has appointed three new digital marketing specialists in its Manchester office to support continued growth.

Rachel Pegram has been appointed as content writer. Prior to joining Visualsoft, she held previous content positions at iProspect, Lakestar McCann and JAMpr.

Graduate Josh Garside joins as outreach executive and Claire Lambert joins as PPC executive.

Since moving to larger premises on Peter Street in Manchester in November last year, the team has expanded to 16 members of staff. This comes after a series of new client wins including Blue Inc, Moda in Pelle and Country House Outdoor.

The agency, which is headquartered in Teesside, also has offices in Newcastle and London and the new recruits take the company’s total headcount to 233.

Jonny Pennington, lead SEO strategist, said: “This year has been an exciting time for Visualsoft in Manchester, and we’ve seen growth in both our SEO and PPC teams thanks to a constant flow of new client wins.

“Our expansion is set to continue as we attract new brands within the fashion and footwear sectors and we’re already looking at further recruitment in Manchester. As we’re approaching capacity at our 24-person office, we are actively exploring opportunities to increase this space for new hires.”


Warrington healthcare property investor Assura has added a new chartered surveyor to its specialist team, to support its growing portfolio of GP surgery and primary care buildings.

Maria Oakman oins the FTSE 250 company, based in the former Greenalls Brewery, following surveying roles with Lee Baron Limited, Urban Vision Partnership and Rochdale Borough Council.

Assura, which owns 422 properties with a total annualised rent roll of £76.9m, has a £146m pipeline of primary care property acquisitions and developments around the country.

Property director Andrew Darke said: “Maria joins us at a particularly exciting time, with our first zero-carbon GP surgery building design opening this summer in Manchester and a long list of further projects and partnerships underway to help GPs all over the country create more space, refurbish existing premises or to secure the new buildings they so desperately need.

“Our relationships with our tenant GPs are built on the specialist skills and experience of our portfolio team, so we’re delighted to welcome Maria to strengthen those even further.”


Commercial property agency Hitchcock Wright and Partners has expanded its team with the appointment of Chris Michael, who joins the Liverpool agency as a graduate surveyor.

Michael joins the city centre team having studied Business & Management at Leeds Beckett University in 2014, and recently completing a masters in Commercial Property Management at Liverpool John Moores University.

Prior to his new role he gained experience at chartered surveyors Bentley Higgs based on the Fylde Coast.

Both Chris and Sean Collins-Jones, who joined the team as a graduate surveyor in 2015, are working towards a full RICS professional qualification through APC.

Following his appointment, Chris says: “I am delighted to join Hitchcock Wright & Partners and gain invaluable experience across all sectors in the North West. I’m especially looking forward to working in Liverpool, a city I’m passionate about.”
“Hitchcock Wright has a great reputation across the region, so I’m looking forward to learning from the experienced team and developing my skills so I can progress my career further.”

The appointment comes as Hitchcock Wright & Partners celebrate 25 years in business this year.

Partner Matt Kerrigan, adds: “This latest appointment is testament to Hitchcock Wright’s growth in recent months. As we celebrate our 25th year in business we are looking ahead and growing our specialist team with new talent.

“We are pleased to have Chris on board as we grow our team and ensure we continue to strengthen our position in the North West marketplace.”