People: Slater Heelis; YFM Equity Partners; WHN Solicitors; Bensons for Beds; Appreciate Group; Gorvins

From left: Rachel Wilding, Beth Sutcliffe, Caitlin Cavanagh
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Greater Manchester-based full-service law firm Slater Heelis is continuing to grow its prowess in services for businesses with four new appointments.

The first of four new recruits, Beth Sutcliffe has joined the firm as a solicitor in the corporate and commercial team after being admitted to the Roll of Solicitors this September at the age of only 25.

As well as an LLB in Law and Psychology and a Masters in Legal Practice, Beth has experience in drafting and negotiating a wide range of commercial contracts including terms and conditions and software as service, marketing and framework agreements.

Additionally, Sophie Fleetwood, trainee solicitor, will be qualifying into the corporate commercial team on completion of her training contract having previously worked within the department and proving to be a great fit for the team.

Partner Simon Wallwork, who heads up the corporate and commercial department and was recognised in the Legal 500 and Chambers rankings as a “Leading Individual” and Band 2 practitioner for the third and sixth consecutive year respectively, said: “The corporate & commercial team has gone from strength to strength in recent times, as can be seen by our promotion in the Legal 500 rankings this year. I’m confident that the expertise these new recruits will bring to our services for business will help us continue to flourish and enable us to build on this positive momentum.”

Joining the commercial property department as a paralegal is Rachael Wilding, who has gained varied experience across the practice area after making the switch from a five-year career in the insurance sector.

Over the years, Rachael has acted on acquisitions and disposals of commercial properties for national retailers, SMEs and local authorities, conducted large scale lease assignment projects and lease reviews, and covered all aspects of Land Registry, HMRC and Companies House post-completion work.

Partner Will Henson, who heads up the commercial property team, said: “It is great to see the commercial property sector thriving beyond the pandemic. The past year has been challenging for our department, but the addition of our new recruits demonstrate that we have overcome them and are going from strength to strength.”

Finally, Caitlin Cavanagh is the newest member of the Slater Heelis residential development team after working in the property world for 10 years across a range of roles – from estate agency to legal practice. Caitlin takes up a secretary position within the plot sales team.

The expansion brings the total of new recruits focused on legal services for businesses to 10 since the start of 2021. This is in addition to substantial growth across the rest of the firm.


Experienced private equity and venture capital finance director, Marcus Karia, has joined fast growing YFM Equity Partners as chief financial officer.

Joining YFM as a partner, Marcus will work across YFM’s offices in London, Leeds, Manchester, Reading and Birmingham. Over the past 13 years, he has held roles across the fund management industry, including with Bridges Fund Management and with LDC, the private equity arm of Lloyds Banking Group.

Most recently, Marcus was group finance director of London Stock Exchange-listed venture capital firm Arix Bioscience, dealing with all aspects of its operations and overseeing finance, portfolio monitoring and analysis and IT. Having joined the company soon after it was founded in 2016, he led the development of the group’s operations, as well as supporting Arix through its IPO.

Marcus Karia

Marcus is qualified as an ICAEW Chartered Accountant, having trained with PwC.

In his new role, Marcus brings a breadth and depth of experience to bear, overseeing all of the business’s finances, and financial reporting on its managed VCTs and buyout funds.

David Hall, managing director at YFM, said: “Having spent his entire career working in venture capital and private equity, Marcus has broad experience of the sector, from mid-market through to public companies.

“The breadth of the knowledge he brings will add real value as YFM embarks on the next stage of our growth journey.”

Marcus said: “YFM has a great reputation. I have been impressed by the team and its inclusive and positive culture. With its strong base and solid track record supporting fast-growing businesses throughout the UK, this is an exciting opportunity to play a part in the business’s continued development.”


North West law firm, Woodcocks Haworth and Nuttall, has added 10 new legal specialists to its team following a period of growth.

The firm, which has eight offices across Greater Manchester and Lancashire, has recruited Olivia Cobham, Rahel Goni and Lucie Rushton to its business law team, with Catherine Ackroyd, Tom Barton, Angela Brown, Melissa Cooper, Louise Conroy, John Llanes and Jennifer Parkinson joining its divisions that specialise in advising individuals and families.

Olivia Corban joins the firm’s Blackburn office as a commercial property paralegal, supporting the team on commercial property transactions, with Rahal Goni recruited to the firm’s Bury corporate and commercial team as a chartered legal executive from In-House Legal Solutions. Lucie Rushton also joins the firm’s Bury office as a paralegal, assisting the dispute resolution team having graduated from Leeds University.

Wills and probate specialist, Catherine Ackroyd, joins WHN’s Great Harwood office as a private client solicitor from Burnley firm, Smith Sutcliffe Solicitors, and Tom Barton has taken up his new paralegal role at the firm’s Blackburn office, joining from JS law.

Angela Brown arrives as a residential conveyancer from Bank View Solicitors in Blackburn and will be based at the Great Harwood office, with Melissa Cooper joining the firm’s Clitheroe team as a residential conveyancing solicitor.

Michael Shroot, centre, with the new appointments

Louise Conroy and John Llanes join as paralegals. Louise was previously assisting a senior District Judge at Blackburn Family Court and will be based in Clitheroe supporting the family law team. John joins the firm’s Rawtenstall office to support its conveyancing team, after graduating from the University of Lincoln.

Meanwhile, Jennifer Parkinson joins as a conveyancing executive from Southerns Solicitors in Burnley and will be based in the firm’s Rawtenstall conveyancing team. Jennifer has more than 15 years’ experience working in the legal profession.

The 10 appointments follow a period of growth for the firm. Michael Shroot, WHN Solicitors CEO, said: “We’re experiencing strong growth right across our business, individual and family law teams. The growth in new instructions has been borne out of our reputation and commitment to help our clients achieve their legal goals and make a positive difference, leading to a raft of recommendations.

“We will continue to invest in our capabilities and future by recruiting leading solicitors as well as training the best in class of legal graduates. I am delighted to welcome this new group of passionate professionals.”

WHN Solicitors employs 110 staff across Lancashire and Greater Manchester and has offices in Accrington, Bacup, Bury, Blackburn, Clitheroe, Haslingden, Great Harwood and Rawtenstall. It advises businesses, individuals and families on a full range of legal matters.

The firm recently received two national accolades for its expertise. It was ranked by Chambers and Partners in its 2022 guide to the UK’s leading lawyers, featuring the firm in the North West Real Estate Litigation category with director, Daniel Long, also ranked as an individual.

Its commercial litigation and corporate and commercial law teams also secured a place in the 2022 edition of Legal 500, known in the industry as the definitive guide to lawyers.


Bensons for Beds has made two key appointments to its leadership team to help drive transformation of the business across its stores and online platform.

Rob Watson

Rob Watson is joining as director of digital, with responsibility for e-commerce, digital marketing, digital data and analytics, and digital user experience.

Rob, who most recently led the digital agenda at American Golf, will join the Bensons team in December.

Graham Wilson joins in the new year as director of omnichannel and customer experience and will take responsibility for the integration of Bensons’ physical and digital presence.

Graham joins from Sofology where he led the digital and omnichannel teams after seven years at where he worked on programme delivery in the business’s technology division.

Rob and Graham will work closely together to build a seamless experience for customers shopping in store and online.

Graham Wilson

Bensons’ chief commercial and digital officer, Nick Collard, said: “Here at Bensons we’re attracting the best talent in the business to drive our transformation, so I’m delighted to be able to announce these two important appointments.

“Rob and Graham bring a wealth of technology and retail experience to their roles. Their contribution to our ambitious plans to make Bensons the business we know our customers want both online and offline, will be invaluable.”

Last month Accrington-based Bensons also announced the appointment of Mandy Winser as chief operating officer, who joined the business from Swissport.

Since Bensons became a stand alone company in 2020 and the re-opening of retail after closures enforced by the pandemic, it has reported significant pent-up demand from customers at its 170-plus store network and online.


Liverpool-based gifting and rewards company, Appreciate Group, home to Park Christmas Savings, Love2shop and, has announced a key new hire to drive forward its commercial finance operations.

Lee Shannon joins the company from multi-national B2C and B2B gaming operator, Stanleybet Group, as the company’s new head of commercial finance and brings more than 15 years of experience from senior commercial finance roles from a range of leading commercial entities.

Lee Shannon

The role will focus on driving continuous improvement in business functions both financially and operationally, and Lee will work closely alongside stakeholders to drive profitability and business performance.

The senior appointment is a signal of intent for Appreciate Group, as it sets its sights on evolving its digital-first model, including the development of digital gifting and rewards solutions.

Chief financial officer, Tim Clancy, said: “It’s been imperative with our digital-led focus that we build a team that can support our journey as it gains momentum, so we’re delighted to have experienced experts like Lee join us.”

Lee said: “It’s an exciting time to have joined the company, especially with its focus on future digital innovation. It’s a pleasure to be a part of a team with a strong and clear vision for growth.”


Greater Manchester-based solicitors, Gorvins, has announced the appointment of Mike Smoult as the head of wills trusts and probate.

With a decade of experience at the firm, Mike will provide leadership and direction to the WTP team, spearheading Gorvins’ efforts to help clients put their personal effects and financial affairs in order.

Mike Smoult

Mike started with Gorvins in January 2011, and became a partner in 2018, bringing with him a wealth of experience and a deep appreciation of the values of the firm. As well as delivering the great day-to-day service expected of the Gorvins brand, Mike will look to develop campaigns to help and encourage clients to prepare for their future with clarity.

Mike said: “Wills trusts and probate is an incredibly important part of what we do at Gorvins. While the subject matter can be something clients can worry about, having the right plan in place ensures when the tough times come, legal headaches don’t arise. It’s that peace of mind that we provide and shall continue to provide under my leadership.”

Mark Deverell, managing partner, said: “It is great to see Mike take on the leadership of such a strong and growing team within Gorvins. Mike has such strong relationships with his clients and other professionals it was a natural step to see him move to be the head of that department.”