People on the Move: Brabners; Oglethorpe Sturton & Gillibrand; CBRE; DSG; Key Group

From left: Nik White, Richard Cowan, Sophie Stewart and Anthony Willis

Independent law firm Brabners has further bolstered its offering with a trio of senior appointments.

Three new partners join the firm, with planning lawyer Sophie Stewart and construction specialist Anthony Willis strengthening the firm’s real estate practice. Richard Cowan also joins as a specialist banking and finance lawyer.

Sophie specialises in planning and infrastructure with a focus on compulsory purchase and regeneration work.

Over a 12-year career she has established herself as one of the North West’s most experienced lawyers in development planning and highways matters, having worked on notable projects such as Liverpool Football Club’s expansion of Anfield Stadium, HS2 and the Mersey Gateway and Blackpool Tramway developments.

She joins the firm from DLA Piper, having previously worked at Liverpool City Council and Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council, from where she was seconded to the Welsh Government to assist in the programme of modernising Welsh planning legislation.

Anthony Willis also joins the firm from DLA Piper and has more than eight years’ experience in construction law. He originally trained and qualified at Brabners and has gone on to build an extensive portfolio of work in the construction sector, with a particular focus on renewable energy, commercial, infrastructure, transport and utilities.

He specialises in construction-related disputes and regularly acts for employers, sub-contractors, architects and consultant engineers across the region.

Richard Cowan is a highly-regarded banking and finance specialist and has worked with a host of major UK clearing banks, challenger banks, corporate borrowers and institutional lenders over a career spanning 12 years.

He acts on a range of corporate lending transactions, including leveraged and structured finance, real estate finance and corporate banking. He joins the firm from Eversheds Sutherland.

Nik White, managing partner, said: “It’s testament to our status and our ever-strengthening reputation and profile that we continue to attract such leading talent. Richard, Anthony and Sophie are highly-regarded practitioners and have acted on a number of landmark projects across the UK. It’s a pleasure to have them join the team.

“We continue to invest in our key specialisms and are enjoying another year of sustainable, profitable growth. I’m confident that Anthony, Richard and Sophie will make a difference to our ambitious clients and help us further grow our North West and UK-wide portfolio.”

The appointments come after Brabners ranked top in the Legal 500 table of North West law firms (based on the number of rankings and recommendations for the firm and its lawyers) and announced another year of revenue growth.

The firm generated turnover of £33.6m in the last financial year (FY18/19), up from £33.1m the year prior and in the second year of a strategic change programme which has seen it invest more than £1.8m to boost further growth.

In total, the firm has nearly 400 employees including 74 partners.


Lancashire law firm Oglethorpe Sturton & Gillibrand has appointed Patricia Boyd to its legal team.

Prior to joining the firm Patricia spent 17 years with two solicitor’s firms based in Morecambe.

In addition, she has spent time working as an estate agent from which she gained extensive knowledge of the property market in the Bay area. She joins Oglethorpe’s property department and specialises in residential matters.

She said: “It’s a privilege to join a prestigious firm like Oglethorpe, Sturton & Gillibrand. Their reputation for client service is second to none.

Patricia Boyd

“I’m particularly pleased to have the opportunity to contribute my Morecambe and Bay area experience. I also think the area is on the verge of some positive growth, due in part to the completion of the Bay Gateway and the exciting anticipation of the new Eden Project which is due to open in 2020.

“This will bring further development to the Morecambe economy, more interest and visitors to the region generally.”

She added: “I’ve always loved working in residential property. Whether the client is selling a property to start a new phase of their life, or buying a new home, it’s an area of the law that usually has a happy ending and offers people a stepping stone to their next chapter.”

Patricia is from Northern Ireland and made her home in the Lancaster area many years ago. She holds an MSc in European Environmental Policy and Regulation from Lancaster University and a law degree from the University of Mid Glamorgan.

David Gillibrand, senior partner, said: “Patricia’s experience and knowledge of Morecambe and its surrounding areas is invaluable to the firm, particularly for conveyancing and residential property matters. Her appointment offers our Bay area clients a deeper level of expertise.

“She is a very welcome addition to our legal team.”


CBRE’s North West building consultancy team has welcomed three new graduates, Matthew Haynes, Andrew Locke and Dominic Picot, to support existing and new business development across Manchester and Liverpool.

These latest recruits join a growing building consultancy team of 38 surveyors, service engineers, quantity surveyors and project managers delivering a diversified client offering across the North West.

Oliver Thomas, senior director who heads up CBRE’s North West building consultancy team, said: “We have had another year of expansion, with 25% fee income growth and an established pipeline moving into 2020 and beyond.

“We are supporting both private and public sector clients across a growing number of sectors in ways our competition cannot. We continue to invest in the future and are pleased to welcome three new recruits into the team, within our Liverpool and Manchester building surveying and project management teams.


From left: Neil Rogers, Andrew Locke, Oliver Thomas, Matthew Haynes, Jason McEwen, Dominic Picot, Stephen Williamson

“All three are on RICS career paths to become chartered surveyors and project managers.”

CBRE’s project and cost management team, headed up by two senior directors Jason McEwen and Stephen Williamson, has enjoyed a successful year as the team continues to establish itself as a growing force.

The team is working on two of Greater Manchester’s most exciting developments, ID Manchester and The Salford University Master Plan, providing strategic project and cost management advice.

The team is also managing the delivery of the revised masterplan at Merseyway, Stockport, which is shaping the retail heart of the town centre and has recently been appointed by other local authorities.

Jason McEwan said: “We are looking to support the right projects for the right clients and, working closely with our planning and development teams, we are able to provide an unrivalled strategic consultancy offering, from project inception, through delivery and into use.”

The rapid growth of PRS and student accommodation development across the city in the last five years has supported the growth of CBRE’s development and fund monitoring services led by Stephen Williamson, who said: “We are currently monitoring more than £2.1bn of development across the North West and finding that our clients see value in expert commercial advice informed by rounded technical, financial and market-focused knowledge.

“This trust in our approach means that we are working on the region’s most exciting projects including St John’s, No One Old Trafford, Circle Square and the many Salboy developments throughout Manchester and Salford.”

Neil Rogers, senior director and head of CBRE’s Liverpool building consultancy team, said: “Our building surveying and engineering teams have supported a number of high-profile portfolio acquisitions and major investment plans in the North West this year.

“Our expanding capability across the wider team improves our knowledge base and ensures that we remain client- and market-focused in providing holistic technical building advice.”


DSG Chartered Accountants has announced four promotions within its corporate business team in Liverpool as the firm continues to help its clients identify opportunities, reduce costs and plan for the future.

Iain Hutchinson and Sam Evans have both been promoted to audit supervisor, having joined DSG as audit seniors two years ago.

In their new roles both will be responsible for overseeing the delivery of audit engagements, training more junior members of the team and evaluating corporate management and operating practices for DSG’s portfolio of clients.

Alesha Meredith and Ryan Rossiter have been promoted to accounts supervisors. Alesha has been at DSG for two years, having joined from a ‘big four’ firm, while Ryan joined the firm in 2018 from a local independent practice.

From left: Samuel Evans, Alesha Meredith, Dominic Watters, Iain White, Alex Nolan, Ryan Rossiter, Iain Hutchinson

As accounts supervisors, Alesha and Ryan will be responsible for preparing accounts on behalf of sole traders, limited companies and partnerships with turnover up to £10m, with a primary focus on Liverpool-based SMEs.

The promotions follow a period of new client wins and a year-on-year increase in the firm’s revenues.

The firm has also taken on two new graduates following an assessment day in June. Dominic Watters, a graduate from Liverpool John Moores University, joined the firm with Alexander Nolan, who arrives from Sheffield Hallam University.

Iain White, partner at DSG, said: “We’re proud to announce these promotions, which reflect our commitment to rewarding the outstanding service our team provides to clients across Liverpool, the North West and North Wales.

“We continue to forge important relationships with clients, and strengthening our team with strategic hires and internal promotions is essential to this aim and provides a firm foundation for the future.

“By committing to this approach, we will strengthen our position as one of the leading independent accountancy practices in Liverpool.”


Key Group, the specialist provider of financial solutions to the over-55’s, has appointed Gillian Kent as non-executive director.

Gillian brings with her almost 30 years of marketing, digital and c-suite experience across a broad range of sectors.

Most recently this included roles as chief executive of real estate portal Propertyfinder, and as managing director of MSN UK – as part of a 15-year career with Microsoft.

Gillian Kent

In addition to Key Group, she currently holds non-executive director roles at Mothercare, Ascential, NAHL Group and SIG, and with two other private high-growth companies, Portswigger and Howsy.

Gillian is also on the expert advisory board for the fourth National Lottery licence competition and was a non-executive director of Pendragon until April 2019.

Chief executive Simon Thompson said: “Gillian has extensive knowledge and experience at board level within some of the UK’s largest and progressive companies.

“Her strategic insight and deep understanding of what is required from a company with significant growth ambitions will be an invaluable great addition to our existing board.”

Gillian Kent said: “Key Group is an innovative company in a growing market which is looking to develop rapidly over the next few years.

“It is this type of business that really interests me and I am looking forward to working alongside the other board members and the wider Key Group team to help support this.”