People on the move: Stephensons; Savills; DSG; Vernon Building Society

Carl Johnson

Specialist regulatory solicitor and partner Carl Johnson has been appointed as head of regulatory law at the national law firm Stephensons – based in the Wigan office.

Johnson joined Stephensons in 2010 and became a partner at the firm in 2015. He specialises in professional discipline and is recommended as an expert in his field by the Legal 500 – the definitive guide to the legal sector.

In his role, Johnson will lead a 20-strong team acting for commercial and professional clients in relation to a wide variety of legal issues.

This includes enforcement by the Care Quality Commission (CQC); data protection; environmental law; Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) enforcement; firearms licensing; health and safety law; Ofsted enforcement; professional discipline; road transport regulation and trading standards enforcement.

The department operates from Stephensons’ offices in the North West and London, acting for clients nationwide.

The range of services offered by the department has recently been extended following the appointment of Stuart Crook, a senior associate solicitor specialising in data protection matters.

Crook previously worked in the firm’s civil liberties department and has joined the regulatory team in order to service the increased demand for advice on compliance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which is due to come into force in May 2018.

Johnson said: “The regulatory department has gone through a period of continuous expansion and evolution in recent years. Our current focus is on consolidating our existing core services, while at the same time expanding the range of services which we offer.”

International real estate advisor Savills has further expanded its residential sales team in the North West with the appointment of Ryan Blair and Bronte Sumner, who will both be based at the firm’s Booth Street office in Manchester.

Blair joins as an associate following four years working in the real estate sector in Dubai, where he worked for ERE Homes Real Estate Brokers before they merged with Sotheby’s International Realty, where he worked as head of sales.

Before moving to Dubai, in 2013, Ryan worked in the property sector in Scotland, with a key focus on lettings. In addition, he has experience in the sale of new homes as well as land and off plan residential property.

Jamie Adam, head of residential development sales at Savills in the north, said: “We are pleased to welcome Ryan and Bronte on board as look ahead to another busy year. The appointments come at a time of increasing demand as our residential development sales arm across Manchester, the north west and the wider north continues to grow.

“Ryan has great experience in the property sector which means that he will be able to hit the ground running in this newly created role and Bronte has a natural flair for providing high levels of service. Both will be a real asset and complement our existing team as we continue to move forward.”


Liverpool-based accountancy practice DSG, which also has offices in Southport and North Wales, have made a key appointment in Laura Leslie who joins the firm as audit director.

Leslie joins DSG from Deloitte where she worked as senior audit manager having previously trained with DSG.

She has a wealth of experience in working with privately owned and private equity-backed businesses and is also a specialist in dealing with organisations and individuals from the manufacturing and property 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.”

Andrew Moss, corporate partner at DSG adds: “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.”

“DSG has become known for its specialist support to corporate businesses across the region and Laura will play a key role in delivering those services to our long-established client base. Laura will also be responsible for training and supporting our ever-growing audit and accounts team.”

Leslie said: “It’s a dream to be working for an ambitious, independent and forward-thinking firm that is making a genuine effort to be a leader in its field.”


Steve Fletcher has taken over as chief executive of Stockport’s Vernon Building Society.

He succeeds Mike Hanson, who has retired having been CEO of the specialist mortgage lender since 1996.

Fletcher was previously head of customer banking networks at Clydesdale and Yorkshire Bank and has worked in the financial sector since 1988, having also worked for Barclays, Woolwich, Birmingham Midshires and Eagle Star.
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.

“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.”

The Vernon Building Society has six branches across Stockport, including its head office in St Petersgate in the town centre, and 35,000 members.