People: Cassidy + Ashton; Vita Group; Typhoo Tea; Galibier; FIG; Wondrwall

Alistair Baines with David Rivers

North West architectural, planning and building surveying practice, Cassidy + Ashton, has strengthened its architecture and design team with the appointment of David Rivers as architectural assistant.

David, a specialist across commercial, hospitality and residential sectors, joins the practice from C4 Projects in Warrington.

He will be based at Cassidy + Ashton’s Preston office, supporting the architecture and design team, working on both residential and commercial design projects.

David has extensive experience spanning over a wide range of projects including new build warehouses, hospitality venues and restaurants as well as residential and mixed use accommodation.

He has developed a particular niche working on luxury residential dwellings, most recently, on the design of a multimillion-pound luxury residential complex in Cheshire.

Alistair Baines, chairman of Cassidy + Ashton said: “David is a strong architecture and design professional. He will strengthen our expertise and client services within this discipline. This helps to ensure we deliver thoughtfully designed and more sustainable spaces for people to live and work and continually improving the wellbeing of our local communities.”

With an Honours Degree in Interior Architecture and a Masters in Architecture, David aspires to become a Chartered Architect and has a keen awareness for sustainable design.

He said: “Cassidy + Ashton offers a greater scope of work across many sectors and locations. I have quickly settled into the friendly team and am already working on some exciting projects including the design of a residential development in Preston and a new warehouse development in Ellesmere Port.

“It is obvious there will be many opportunities for me to both extend my architectural skills and gain valuable experience at Cassidy + Ashton.”


Vita Group has added to its C-suite with a trio of top tier promotions. Max Bielby who was previously managing director for Vita Student has been promoted to chief operating officer, Laura Swindells who was previously people director has been promoted to chief of staff and David Ancell has been promoted to chief brand officer.

Bielby’s new role aligns with the business’s growth across new living sectors as its BTR brand Vita Living continues to roll out and new co-living brand Union is on the horizon. Bielby will continue to head up Vita Student while ensuring smooth operations across all Vita Group’s communities, overseeing sales, customer experience and marketing.

From left: Max Bielby, Laura Swindells, David Ancell, Alex Kelly

Swindells has been with Alderley Edge-based Vita Group since its inception, playing a vital role in delivering success. Laura’s role sits across all functions of the business, driving company culture, ensuring business functions are resourced appropriately and sitting across all strategic decision making to align with the wider business objectives, vision, and values.

Ancell, who was previously brand and product director, has been promoted chief brand officer shaping the way the group creates living experiences to connect with its customers. Ancell will continue to grow Vita Student and Vita Living while developing new living brands.

As well as the three additions to the company C-suite, Alex Kelly has been promoted from head of acquisitions to acquisitions director as the business continues to scale its operations and look for new sites to develop.

Mark Stott, chief executive, said: “Dave, Laura, Max and Alex have been integral to the way the group operates for a number of years and these promotions acknowledge the fantastic work they’ve achieved and demonstrate our investment into their talent. I look forward to seeing how they continue to develop and thrive in their new roles.”


Mike Brehme, the co-founder and CEO of Clipper Teas for 27 years, has been appointed as the chairman of Wirral-based Typhoo Tea in a move that underpins the company’s commitment to growing its brands both in the UK and internationally.

Mike joins Typhoo Tea following a business restructure in 2021 that saw Zetland Capital, a London-based private equity firm, become a majority shareholder and Abercross expand its shareholding.

Mike led Clipper Teas to become the UK’s first Fairtrade tea company and the world’s largest producer of Fairtrade tea.

Des Kingsley, CEO of Typhoo Tea said: “Mike is as passionate about tea as we are. His depth of experience and knowledge of our category have already proven extremely beneficial.

Mike Brehme

“We have a renewed focus on our brands at Typhoo Tea. Mike’s experience of creating and nurturing an incredibly successful international brand, without forgetting the importance of people and the planet, will be invaluable to our plans.”

Mike said: “Typhoo has been making tea since 1903, it is a national treasure and an integral part of what makes Great Britain a nation of tea lovers.

“As a nation we are now drinking a much wider range of teas and infusions. The expertise and passion within Typhoo Tea for its brands like Typhoo and Heath & Heather infusions will soon be transforming the market and adding an OO’ to every brew, whatever your taste.”

In December 2021, Typhoo Tea announced the appointment of Rocío Ortiz as responsible sourcing manager and the engagement of Lesley Western as corporate social responsibility consultant. Last month the company also launched its first brand campaign for Typhoo in almost five years. ‘OO Please gives the infamous ‘OO in Typhoo a new lease of life and will re-engage the nation’s tea drinkers.


Manchester PR agency Galibier has appointed some new faces to its team – although some are already familiar stalwarts of the Northern agency scene.

Perhaps the longest established of these names is Danny Turnbull, who was MD at Gyro when Galibier founder Oliver Chesher worked under him from 2005-2010. Chesher has now brought him in as non-exec director to advise and help guide Galibier as it rapidly strengthens to exceed its pre-COVID growth with some big account wins including a global tech client and two international education businesses.

Another long term relationship rekindled is the return of Hannah Dawson, who rejoins the agency in a leadership role following a stint in the public sector. Hannah started her PR career at Galibier’s Manchester HQ working with clients in tech, education and finance and rapidly developed her expertise in high stakes campaigning, leading to a client-side sabbatical working in policy and higher education.

Next to join the operational management team is Georgia Burns, who has swiftly risen through the ranks since joining Galibier after graduating from Cambridge University in 2020, and has now been promoted to account manager with responsibility for media relations and stakeholder comms campaigns in legal, financial and other high risk regulated sectors.

From left: Georgia Burns, Hannah Dawson, Danny Turnbull, Oliver Chesher, Marta Santi

Rounding out the new recruits is Marta Santi, who came from the shores of Lake Garda in Italy to study at Manchester University. Following completion of her MA in political science and having produced and edited her own international publication, she joins Galibier as an account executive in her first agency role.

Oliver Chesher said: “We’ve been through survival mode, then consolidation mode, and now we’re back in growth mode – with some lessons learned along the way. Having the best people is fundamental because it’s an investment in a new, more mature, more accountable business.

“We’re not focusing solely on revenue growth – we also need to grow in terms of better processes, bigger reputation and bigger ambitions, and these are the people that will take us there.”


The first quarter of 2022 has been one of growth for Glossop-based creative marketing and B2B PR agency FIG, which has expanded both its team and range of client services and won new business.

FIG has enhanced its offer with the appointment of its first sales and marketing manager, who will help to develop client growth strategies as well as supporting the agency’s own evolution. Ali Sproson has more than 25 years’ experience in the steel fabrication and motor trades, with previous clients including manufacturers such as Jaguar and Daewoo as well as the retailer Williams Motor Company.

Ali Sproson

Meanwhile, Stoke-on-Trent national security solutions provider, ADB Alarms Group, has become FIG’s latest retained client. The agency will harness its experience within the security industry to develop an integrated campaign including web, social and email marketing and PR to support ADB’s expansion in the residential, commercial and public sectors.

The two developments are the latest in what has been a successful first quarter for FIG, which began 2022 working in partnership with High Peak Borough Council and Staffordshire Moorlands District Council to design, create and distribute the glossy Local Food Guide to more than 90,000 homes to help support the regional pub and restaurant sector as it recovers from two years of disruption.

Managing director, Helen Duncan, said: “Last year, FIG celebrated its 25 th anniversary, and it is now embarking on an exciting new phase of growth which Ali will help to shape. We specialise in the manufacturing, industrial and technology sectors and look forward to applying this expertise for the benefit of ADB.”


Manchester-based Wondrwall, a technology company that provides intelligent living solutions for the home to help save time, energy and money, has appointed David Cowans as its new chair.

David was the chief executive of Places for People, the property management company that builds homes and communities across the country. During his 24 years tenure David became a pioneer in the housing sector and brings a wealth of knowledge and contacts with him to his new role.

He will be focused on helping implement the ambitious growth plans of Wondrwall which was founded by current chief executive Daniel Burton in 2014. It has developed a wide ranging and complementary suite of products for the home which use artificial intelligence to learn behaviours to help users maximise energy efficiency across their home.

David Cowans

Earlier this year the company moved to new larger premises in Salford Quays and has plans to increase its staffing levels throughout 2022 to help deliver on its growing sales pipeline.

Daniel Burton said: “The appointment of David is a real statement of our intent to grow the business rapidly over the next few years. His track record speaks for itself, and he is someone I have admired for a long time. We have built an impressive portfolio of customer centric products which is reflected in the growing demand for our services. I am looking forward to working with David to help implement our growth plans and create opportunities locally for further employment.”

David Cowans said: “Technology is going to become ever more important in how we live our lives in the future and Wondrwall want to be at the forefront of the provision of increased comfort and energy efficiency in the home. The technology they are developing can help save money for homeowners and also reduce emissions in the home. I want to be able to use my knowledge and experience of the UK housing market to help create new opportunities for Daniel and his team to deliver complete clean energy solutions for the home.”