People: Metamorph; ThinCats; Parfetts; Clough & Willis; ENGIE; Northern Industrial

Neil Fearn

Metamorph has appointed Neil Fearn as group head of dispute resolution.

Fearn joins from Pryers Solicitors where, as CEO, he led the firm to a substantial turnaround – including a profit increase of £1.4m in 18 months.

In his role at Sale-based Metamorph, Fearn will be supporting its ambitious plans to grow through nationwide acquisitions. Additionally, Fearn will be responsible for the development and growth of the national litigation team at Metamorph – comprising employment, commercial litigation and personal injury – and bolstering the Linder Myers brand in the North of England.

Fearn said: “I’ve had the privilege of working with Tony Stockdale and the team at Metamorph for a number of years and have always been impressed by the way that they operate and their unique model. Throughout my career I’ve gained experience in the sale and acquisition of law firms, as well as setting up, growing and leading individual teams – experience that I’ll be putting to good use at Metamorph.”

Metamorph CEO, Tony Stockdale, said: “We are delighted to welcome Neil to the Metamorph team. It’s clear that his specific skillset is a perfect fit for us, both in growing the group through consolidation, but also the strategic development of our client service offering. I’m looking forward to seeing the impact I’m sure Neil will have in the coming months.”

Fearn’s previous achievements include setting up the Simpson Millar clinical negligence team and developing it to being in the top five in the country with a turnover of £6m, renegotiating down the consideration paid for Pryers by Pure Legal Limited by £9m and conducting a considerable number of high value clinical negligence claims.


ThinCats, the alternative finance provider to mid-sized SMEs, has had a strong start to 2021 with more than £100m in funding deployed to date this year, following a record year in 2020.

With a view to further strengthening relationships with customers and other stakeholders, the company has employed Steve Ford as relationship director to manage the borrower relationship team. He will be based in the North West.

Steve joins ThinCats with 23 years’ corporate banking experience with RBS, including 14 years in relationship management.

Steve Ford

For the past six years Steve was corporate banking director, leading teams across the North West. He has strong risk management skills developed in the SME marketplace, building strong and lasting relationships with customers and stakeholders.

Steve said: “I recognise, as the country trades out of the pandemic, the SME landscape is so important to the UK economy. From a distance I have seen the positive impact that ThinCats is having in supporting mid-sized businesses, taking a pragmatic approach to truly understanding management teams, and helping assist their growth aspirations.

“I see this role as an important opportunity to continue the ThinCats evolution, proving a sound platform for relationship management.”

Mike Hackett, head of sales, said: “I have worked with Steve in the past and I know that his strengths lie firmly in relationship management. He is an incredibly experienced addition to the team and will enable us to continue to develop the support package that we offer to our borrowers. We are very excited to have Steve on board.”


Stockport based Parfetts is supporting its growth plans with the appointment of Antony Downing to the new role of store development manager.

He joins the wholesaler from Costcutter, where he supported retailers as the retail design manager. At Parfetts, he will lead the development of new store formats for Go Local as the fascia group aims to reach 1,000 retailers in the next two years.

Guy Swindell, retail director at Parfetts, said: “Antony brings a huge amount of experience to this new role. We continue to invest in and evolve our Go Local fascia with new talented people that are dedicated to supporting retailers, along with new technology and services such as our innovative GOLD delivery service.”

Antony Downing

Go Local will see a range of new store formats developed over the coming months. It aims to provide industry-leading levels of flexibility along with great value and regular promotional offers.

Parfetts saw turnover in the last financial year jump by 26% to £474m. It is trading strongly and expects sales to exceed £500m in 2021. It is investing £1.5m into its infrastructure and facilities and is extending its Aintree and Sheffield depots to increase capacity for its delivered operation.

Antony Downing said: “Parfetts and Go Local have built an enviable reputation in recent years and its focus on supporting retailers is second to none. I look forward to working closely with our retailers to optimise their store performance and help take their businesses to the next level.”

Mr Downing has worked in store development and the convenience retail sector for more than 33 years. His expertise spans merchandising, store planning and retail design.


Bury and Bolton-based law firm Clough & Willis has grown its residential property team with the appointment of Claire Birch who joins the department as a residential conveyancer.

Claire has more than 30 years’ experience in the residential conveyancing sector. Prior to joining Clough & Willis she worked at Temperley Taylor Solicitors.

Her new role will see her handle all types of residential conveyancing matters including sales and purchases, remortgage work and the purchases of freeholds.

Claire Birch and Lorraine Stratton-Webb

Claire will now work alongside the other five members of the residential property team, including Lorraine Stratton-Webb who heads up the department.

Lorraine said: “The last few months has been an incredibly busy time for the team so we needed to grow our ranks. However, it was essential that client care, experience and dedication were central to any new recruit’s talents.

“Claire has those in abundance so we are delighted that she has joined us and it’s great that she is already adding value.”

Claire said: “Clough & Willis is a long established firm with a fantastic reputation so I’m really pleased to be part of the team. I live locally so I’m looking forward to helping people both in the area and further afield by making the process of moving as stress free as possible.”


Energy, services, and regeneration specialist, ENGIE, has responded to increasing construction and sustainability demands across the North West by welcoming a new regional managing director to strengthen existing expertise and the company’s continued growth in the area.

Tim Wood has taken up the role for the North West. He has worked in the construction and services sector for 35 years and, before joining ENGIE, he was group commercial director at United Living.

He said: “I’m delighted to join ENGIE, a leader in the regeneration, services and energy sector and an innovative business that continues to support local authorities, housing associations and private businesses. We aim to improve the environments we all live and work in by designing, renovating and building, energy-efficient properties, whilst supporting and investing in local communities.”

Tim aims to build on the region’s already established construction success across housing, education, retail, commercial and energy.

Tim Wood

He added: “We have a talented workforce, with a lot of opportunities ahead of us. We hope to build on our achievements and continue to deliver innovative and pioneering solutions for our customers and partners, whilst also supporting them with their zero carbon ambitions.”

Tim is supported across the North West by his established senior leadership team, which includes Steven Gregory, head of new build, Neil Warburton, head of refurbishment, Alyson Seddon, head of education and public buildings, Ed Carrol, head of major projects, and Barry Tayburn, head of energy & innovation.

Recent and current examples of ENGIE’s capabilities across the North West includes, more than £70m of new build housing projects already being delivered across Cheshire and Manchester, planning approval for a new £60m low carbon community in Miles Platting, the construction of a new Helipad for Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, delivery of a new solar PV farm for Flintshire County Council and long term refurbishment contracts with Your Housing Group, Anchor Hanover and Clarion.


Blackburn-based Northern Industrial has expanded its Mexico operation with the appointment of Alberto Pasarán.

Alberto joins Alejandro Núñez at the international spare parts and repairs company’s Mexico City facility, opened in December 2020. The site is the first overseas operation to be opened by Northern Industrial, a provider of new, reconditioned and obsolete parts and repair services.

Exporting to 146 countries from its Blackburn facilities, where it holds approximately £10m in stock covering more than 200,000 part numbers, sourced from in excess of 1,350 manufacturers, Northern Industrial helped around 4,000 companies keep up and running last year.

Alejandro Núñez and Alberto Pasarán

Managing director, David Lenehan, said: “Mexico is a great location for Northern Industrial to serve the whole of the Americas. With a team that speaks both Spanish and English it also has the advantage of being in the same time zone as large parts of the USA and other major South American economies.

“Time is a crucial factor in breakdown situations, which cost about £200,000 an hour on average across all businesses worldwide according to a recent global study.

“Also, though the Northern Industrial website, which is open 24-hours to customers worldwide, forms the beating heart of our business, in a stressful breakdown situation the ability to pick up the phone and talk to an expert is often a Godsend for getting the problem resolved as quickly as possible.

“So, having an operation that is in the right time zone to answer the phone to the entire Americas in both dominant languages is a huge advantage for us and our customers on that side of the Atlantic.”