People: Verastar; Alcohol Solutions; Recycling Lives; UK200Group; Exchange Chambers

Jon Perkins and Georgina Lord

Manchester-based essential services supplier, Verastar, has made two appointments to its board of directors with the addition of a new chief customer officer and chief product and strategy officer.

With 160,000 commercial customers across a number of brands, the Verastar Group provides eight essential services required by small businesses – broadband, telephone services, mobile, electricity, gas, water, insurance and merchant services.

Former Zen Internet managing director, Georgina Lord, takes up the position of CCO, having previously held senior roles at Virgin Media Business and Intercity Technology.

In her newly created CCO role, Lord will oversee both the sales and customer service functions and have responsibility for developing Verastar’s customer strategy as the business embarks on an ambitious five-year growth plan.

She said: “I was attracted to the role because of the sheer ambition of the business and the scope of the five-year strategy. I like to work quickly, I like to get results and I like to have fun along the way. All of this is possible at Verastar, with its fantastic culture and ambitious investors.

“Reviewing how we interact with customers is my key focus, from both a service and a sales point of view. The greatest customer contact strategies are often the simplest ones, for the customer and for the colleague. Verastar does a brilliant job looking after customers, but there are always ways to improve and new technologies and tools we can use to make the experience even better. Success for me is connecting and simplifying the customer journey, from end to end.”

Meanwhile, Jon Perkins joins the board as CPSO. Perkins is a former commercial director at TalkTalk Business and Strategy Director at Zen Internet, who has also had successful spells in commercial roles at EON and EE.

The role will see him leading Verastar across product development, data, marketing and brand, alongside a focus on developing M&A activity, partnerships and new business opportunities.

Perkins said: “I’m delighted to join a business with such massive potential and intent. There’s a huge talent pool within Verastar and in my first few weeks I’ve been struck by the will to succeed, the deep level of expertise and how welcoming everyone has been.

“There’s a huge amount of data within this business and there’s a great opportunity for us to make that data work even harder for us to inform smarter and simpler decisions to benefit our customers and colleagues. There’s something truly exciting about being the disruptive player within well established markets. We want to demonstrate that people don’t have to settle for the traditional suppliers and accept the status quo. There’s a better option.”

Lord and Perkins join CEO Lee Hull and CFO Paul Doherty on the company’s board.

Lee Hull said: “It’s fantastic to welcome two crucial hires in Georgina and Jon. I’ve worked with them both individually in the past and I’m excited by the ability and experience they bring to the team. Georgina and Jon share Verastar’s values and both have an unbreakable focus on driving improvements for customers and colleagues.”


Alcohol Solutions, the Manchester-based specialist in alcohol-based drinks development, has recruited Eleanor Bright as NPD (new product development) Technologist. The appointment is in response to retailers and brands needing innovative drinks products to meet increasing demand from consumers.

With a background in food marketing and business, as well as having first hand taken drinks products from conception to market, Eleanor will be part of the team responsible for developing new liquids which satisfy current consumer trends, including growth in the rum and vodka categories, as well as low/no sugar drinks and canned beverages such as craft seltzers and RTD cocktails.

Eleanor Bright

Earlier this year Alcohol Solutions reported a 100% increase in enquiries for its canning, bottling and labelling facilities, which led to the recruitment of four new apprentices as part of the Skills for Growth-SME Support Programme.

Dave Rigby, managing director and master distiller, said: “Eleanor brings solid experience to our NPD team – she knows the market and thinks ahead to the next big thing. She complements the hires we’ve already made this year and her appointment is timely in the run up to the very busy festive period, as well as the increasingly popular healthier options categories for January.”

Eleanor said: “I love researching new ideas and monitoring how liquid trends are developing in the market, and because Alcohol Solutions works with so many on- and off-trade businesses, there’s huge scope to develop products that will jump off the back bar, as well as the supermarket shelves. I’m looking forward to developing some real stand out liquids for our customers. I’m lucky to have found a job I absolutely love.”

Alcohol Solutions has a 13,000 sq ft facility in Carrington, Greater Manchester. The site includes a laboratory for developing alcohol-based beverages, a CL5 canning line, a British-made bottling line and a bonded facility, with capacity to process 10 million cans and bottles per year.


Recycling and waste handling specialist, Recycling Lives, has a new team leading sustainability and social value within the Preston-based national waste recycling business.

Barry Flanagan is the company’s sustainability manager with primary responsibility for maintaining social value focus as the company transitions to becoming a circular economy leader.

He is working with newly appointed social projects manager, Andrew Wright, to define the ESG (environmental, social & governance) value of the company’s operations, and extend the commitment to the offender rehabilitation, food redistribution and other social value initiatives that have made Recycling Lives a benchmark for caring businesses.

Recycling Lives employs more than 500 people across the UK. The new management team is on track to substantially grow the business by investing in both its people and innovative processes across the 18 sites operated by the company nationwide, including its Preston head office and recycling park, the metal and waste recycling operation in Hitchin, Bury, Birkenhead, Durham, Falkirk, Hockley, Leyland, Northampton, Walsall, Workington and Cox’s Lane – Cradley Heath.

The 15-acre recycling park in Preston is the flagship facility for Recycling Lives and currently leads on both innovation and social value programmes. But the aim is to roll out that ethos and engage more effectively with all 500 of the company’s employees at its facilities across the UK, so that they can all embrace the evolution of the company.

Barry moved over from the Recycling Lives Charity where, for five years, he was head of rehabilitation programmes. He holds a commendation from the Butler Trust for his inspirational leadership of teams transforming the lives of prisoners at HMP Recycling Lives Academies within seven prisons, and is committed to redefining social value generated by the company.

Andrew has worked in the biomass energy sector leading on ESG issues, experience which will be valuable as Recycling Lives transitions towards a sustainable circular economy model. A qualified counsellor, he has also previously fulfilled a range of roles with drug and alcohol rehabilitation initiatives and worked with offenders and young people within social services and residential care.

Barry Flanagan and Andrew Wright

Andrew first met Barry by enlisting the support of Recycling Lives for vulnerable individuals, and is now looking forward to helping to expand the company’s social value strategy.

Barry said: “Our transition to become a leading circular economy business will affect every aspect of the company. For example, we are currently at the forefront of the industry in the way we depollute and recycle up to 130,000 motor vehicles every year, how we extract value from other waste streams to re-use and recycle metals and other materials, and in our innovation projects to further reduce waste to landfill and create sustainable energy.

“As we improve and innovate to extend our core business, we also want to improve and extend the social value programmes. We will continue to work within the criminal justice sector to give people the opportunity to change the direction of their lives by providing jobs and the chance to rebuild their futures. But we are also developing other strategies to deliver positive impact and, in the case of young people, intervene before they become involved in the justice system.

“Our aim is to create initiatives that benefit not just the individuals involved but society as a whole – through our sustainable environmental work and social programmes. All of this will bring the company and the charity closer together and involve people at all of our sites in fulfilling activity that can change for the better the world in which we live.”


Peter Stafford, managing director of Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors, has been elected as chair of the UK200Group lawyers’ group to help grow the influence that law firms have within the innovative UK200Group, the UK’s professional services group made up of independent, quality assured chartered accountancy and law firms

Launched in 2020, the lawyers’ group provides an exclusive forum for member law firms to promote their expertise and share best practice on how to grow their businesses.

Since the Group was formed, Peter has assisted previous chairman, Mark Lello, of Parker Bullen Solicitors, as vice chair, but was asked to step up to chair the group when Mark stepped aside due to his other commitments within UK200Group.

Peter Stafford

Peter said: “I am delighted to have been asked to be chairman, and this is a great platform for the law firm members and an opportunity to expand the business we do. Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors became a member of the UK200Group around five years ago and it’s an invitation-only group where you have to go through a rigorous approval process, so we feel honoured to be in the company of such high esteemed businesses.

“The lawyers’ group will be used as a platform for the law firms within the overall group to provide a more collaborative approach towards business. When you combine all these voices, it gives us a greater punching weight than if we would have on our own.”

Gary McIndoe, a director at North West law firm Latitude Law, was appointed vice chair of the lawyers’ group.

Peter said: “I look forward to working more closely with Gary and the rest of the members to develop the group and give it a louder voice within the law profession.”

The appointments were announced ahead of the UK200Group’s annual conference which will be held in Edinburgh on November 10-12.

Cartmell Shepherd Solicitors, which has offices in Brampton, Penrith, West Cumbria, Haltwhistle and two in Carlisle, is the only legal firm in Cumbria to be represented in the UK200Group.


John Jones QC, head of the criminal department at Exchange Chambers, has been appointed as an associate lecturer at Northumbria Law School for an initial three-year term.

John will remain in full-time practice alongside his academic role. Exchange Chambers has offices in Manchester, Liverpool and Leeds.

John Jones QC

Northumbria Law School is one of the largest law schools in the UK, with a national and international reputation for excellence in legal education. Its £70m state-of-the-art city centre location provides an outstanding learning environment with professional facilities including a real courtroom, onsite law library, legal skills hub and law clinic.

John said: “I am delighted to take on the role of associate lecturer at Northumbria Law School. The law school provides an outstanding learning environment and is totally committed to enhancing the career prospects of its graduates. I am looking forward to supporting the university’s excellent programme by working with students and the academic team.”

Jonathan I’Anson, chief executive at Exchange Chambers, said: “As a chambers, we are also looking forward to building ties with Northumbria and exploring opportunities for Northumbria students.”

John Jones QC has already delivered his first lecture, focusing on Unexplained Wealth Orders which allow, if established, for the confiscation of property without proving criminality, by reversing the burden of proof.

John is a highly acclaimed silk with more than 38 years’ experience at the Bar, 19 of which have been in Silk. He is widely acknowledged as a ‘go-to’ advocate for major heavyweight cases and is recommended year after year in Chambers UK and the Legal 500.

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