People on the Move: Mills & Reeve; The Met; JLL;; Sigma

Richard New
X The Business Desk

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National law firm Mills & Reeve has boosted its real estate disputes practice in the North West with the arrival of partner Richard New.

Richard, formerly a partner at Eversheds Sutherland, specialises in real estate disputes and dispute avoidance.

He has also built a successful business rates practice in addition to his mainstream real estate disputes offering.

Richard is well-known for his work in facilitating development and infrastructure projects for clients and has been involved in several significant matters for clients in Manchester and the North West.

These include rights of light and restrictive covenant disputes for a city centre luxury hotel, title and access issues for various properties surrounding Manchester Piccadilly station, and a multimillion-pound valuation dispute for office accommodation in central Manchester.

He is also one of the few solicitor experts in the field of business rates and has been leading teams on rating appeals and mitigation strategies in both the Tribunals and the High Court.

These include the game-changing Principled Offsite Logistics v Trafford case (lawfulness of a rates mitigation scheme involving storage), and Store First v Moore (rateability of large self-storage warehousing).

Mike Edge, head of real estate in Manchester, said: “We are delighted that Richard is joining us and we are looking forward to being able to offer his expertise for the benefit of our growing client base.”

Richard Hanson, Mills & Reeve partner and head of real estate disputes, said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Richard to our team.

“He is recognised by industry figures as a leader in his field for his work in business rates and this expertise will further enhance our high quality client offering and our national reputation in real estate services relevant to our clients.”

Richard New added: “I am incredibly excited to be joining Mills & Reeve at a time of expansion for the real estate disputes team.

“Mills & Reeve has an enviable reputation nationally for their real estate offering. I look forward to working with the team here, continuing to cement my reputation as one of the few solicitor experts in the field of business rates and becoming involved more generally with the real estate disputes practice.”


Helen Clayton, partner at the chartered accountancy, business advisory and wealth management group PM+M and head of the firm’s Bury office, has been appointed as the new treasurer of The Met.

The Met is a performing arts venue in Bury which houses two theatres, its own recording studio and rehearsal spaces, as well as a popular restaurant and bar.

It is operated by Bury Metropolitan Arts Association and part funded by Arts Council England and Bury Council.

The role will see Helen work with The Met’s board of trustees and senior team.

Helen Clayton and Victoria Robinson

Her core responsibility will be to oversee all financial aspects of the organisation to ensure it is fit for purpose and investing for the future. Helen is a personal donor to The Met and PM+M became a corporate sponsor in 2017.

Helen said: “I am incredibly excited about joining the board of trustees and working closely with such a talented group of individuals who all really care about the work The Met does, what it stands for and the benefits it brings to the local community.

“I’m now looking forward to adding value, helping to enhance its reputation in Bury and beyond, and also working to secure more personal and corporate sponsors.”

Victoria Robinson, chief executive of The Met, added: “We are delighted to welcome Helen to The Met. Her exceptional skills and experience in finance are the perfect addition to our board of trustees.

“PM+M has been a keen supporter of The Met, and we know that Helen – as a local resident and a regular attendee of our shows – will help the organisation to keep improving.”


JLL has made two new senior hires in its Manchester-based valuation and lease advisory teams.

Philip Corrigan has joined as an associate director in the consultant’s valuation advisory team.

Philip joins from Knight Frank with 10 years’ experience specialising in the residential valuations sector.

His appointment is set to strengthen JLL’s development and mixed-use valuation capabilities and he will work with clients on schemes including Circle Square, St John’s and Great Northern.

Jonny Powers, left and Philip Corrigan

JLL’s Manchester commercial valuation team comprises 13 consultants, making it one of the largest of its kind outside of London.

Tim Luckman, director, valuation advisory at JLL, said: “Manchester has an exceptionally active property development market. This is translating into demand for a variety of specialist valuation services and a wealth of opportunity for our team as a result.”

Meanwhile, Jonathon Powers has been appointed as an associate director in JLL’s lease advisory team, where he’ll be providing clients with consultancy on lease structures, rent reviews and renewals.

Jonathon joins from commercial property agency GVA with 14 years’ experience working across a range of sectors.

Clients of JLL’s lease advisory business include the Department for Work and Pensions, major retailers and a range of independent property companies and occupiers in the North West.

David Lathwood, lead director at JLL, said: “Jonathon and Philip each bring a wealth of experience to our specialist teams, and will help us to deliver expert consultancy to our roster of international, blue-chip clients.”

:: has appointed three new senior hires to its Accrington headquarters as it prepares to accelerate its business.

The three senior appointments include Ian Smith as the new head of IT strategy and architecture, Justine Thompson in the newly-created role of head of asset and facilities management, and Jill Tofalos as head of customer service operations.

The three bring with them extensive retail and customer experience from brands including Marks & Spencer, Littlewoods and Natwest.

This follows last year’s appointment of Claire Hill from Boohoo as customer experience director.

These appointments come as Express Gifts experiences considerable company growth. With revenue up 8%, gaining market share, 70 further new employees and significant investment in digital technology.

Paul Kendrick, managing director of Express Gifts, said: “Ian, Justine and Jill will be valuable additions to an already brilliant team. We are looking forward to seeing the new directions this fresh talent will steer us towards as we continue with our ambitious plans for the future.”

Express Gifts, owned by Findel and trading under, is an online personal shopping service with flexible payment options. It stocks more than 60,000 products, including clothing, homeware and gifts.


Macclesfield-based user experience and digital accessibility agency, Sigma, has made two new appointments to kick-off a busy 2019.

Molly Watt, disability campaigner and founder of the Molly Watt Trust, has been brought on board as usability and accessibility consultant.

Shane Prendergast, meanwhile, will be joining the team as website front-end developer.

Molly Watt

In her new role Molly will be working on design inclusivity and accessibility – issues that she is passionate about and which personally affect her on a daily basis.

Molly has relied on technology since she was born due to having Usher syndrome, a genetic condition which causes deafness and a form of blindness.

She has had to learn the hard way that not all products and services are designed inclusively, and so hopes to use both her own experiences – alongside those of others – to educate larger audiences on how designing for inclusion has more benefits than meet the eye.

Appointed on a part-time basis, she will continue to spearhead disability inclusion through the Molly Watt Trust alongside her role at Sigma.

The appointment comes as a result of a long-term relationship forged between Molly and Sigma, after the former featured as a guest speaker at Sigma’s annual conference – Camp Digital.

Shane will be working on the build and maintenance of Sigma’s client websites and apps – all of which have a focus on web accessibility.

Shane Prendergast

Previously holding positions at McCann Manchester and Stein IAS, Shane has a wealth of experience working with both large and small clients in the design, usability and accessibility space.

Sigma is a specialist in user experience and has an inclusive approach to improving the usability and accessibility of digital products and services, covering websites, intranets, mobile apps and software.

The company had a successful 2018, having announced a £250,000 investment to refurbish its Macclesfield head office, winning several large-scale contracts and growing its team to 45. Furthermore, the business is on track for continued growth to a turnover of £4m in the coming months.

Molly said: “It was clear that both myself and the team at Sigma share a passion and vision in accessibility, usability and design and I’m really proud to have been asked to become a permanent part of the team.”

Shane added: “This is a great opportunity. I’m ambitious to improve outputs and processes of Sigma’s front-end work and better my knowledge and skills in the sector.”

Hilary Stephenson, managing director at Sigma, said: “We’re all really excited to have Shane and Molly join.

“As well as being passionate about accessibility, they are both excellent at what they do and I know they’ll push us to increase our focus on inclusive product and service design. I can’t wait to see what they bring to the team.”