People: Haines Watts; Inspired Villages; ANS Group; M247; Harrison Drury; Bespoke

Robert Pooley and Donna Park

Haines Watts has welcomed three new team members in the past month, with a further two internal promotions. The appointments come as the firm continues to support its growing portfolio of owner managed businesses across Manchester.

The new team members join across different departments, including audit, tax and tax incentives and reliefs. Fariborz Dabirian and Bradley Steele have both joined the team as seniors, while Toby Denwood joins as an executive.

Meanwhile, Robert Pooley and Donna Park have both been promoted to assistant managers. They will be focusing on helping their clients to advance their digital strategies, to support them with the challenges they are facing and with their ambitious growth plans.

Robert Pooley said: “It is extremely rewarding to be promoted to this position. Throughout my time at Haines Watts I have been trained meticulously to ensure we deliver the high quality service expected from a Top 15 accountancy nationwide practice.”

Antony Sassen, director in Manchester, said: “We are thrilled to welcome great people to our team. We are continuing to evolve and adapt to future business challenges to strengthen our relationships with clients and employees. Rob and Donna have worked hard this year and their promotions are a valued reflection of the impact they have had on the business.”


Gifford Lea, a later living community in Tattenhall, near Chester, has appointed Rachel Butterworth as its new village manager.

Rachel joins the team with 20 years of experience working in the health and fitness industry. She took on her first general manager role 15 years ago running clubs for Nuffield Health and David Lloyd, where she managed their flagship site in the North West. Rachel’s passion for staying fit and healthy is at the heart of Inspired Villages’ ethos when it comes to later living and something she aims to share with residents at Gifford Lea.

Rachel Butterworth

Operated by later living provider Inspired Villages, Gifford Lea is situated in the Cheshire countryside. The village currently offers 104 later living apartments and boasts a range of impressive facilities, which include a wellness spa with relaxation pool, restaurant, bar, hair and beauty salon, gym, craft room and library/cinema room. Work is currently also under way on phase 3 which, when complete, will offer 162 retirement properties in total.

Rachel said: “The very first time I arrived at Gifford Lea I was blown away and it totally changed my mind about what a retirement village was.”

Jamie Bunce, CEO of Inspired Villages, said: “We are happy to have Rachel join our team at Gifford Lea and look forward to seeing the visions she has for the village come to life. Rachel’s years of experience in the health and fitness industry, paired with her leadership skills make her an excellent addition to the Inspired Villages team, helping us ensure our residents live the best years of their lives with us.”


Following the launch of a new brand identity and the announcement of its ambitious three-year growth targets, ANS Group has appointed former TalkTalk commercial heavyweight Richard Thompson as its first chief revenue officer (CRO).

As CRO, Thompson takes responsibility for ANS’s sales, marketing and commercial functions with a remit to drive significant growth through new and existing channels.

Thompson joins the ANS Group board following 20 years with telecoms giant TalkTalk, where he held roles including director of sales operations, marketing director and commercial director, before becoming a managing director within TalkTalk Business.

Under Thompson’s watch, TalkTalk Business grew its wholesale broadband market share to more than 60%.

Having set out its plans to double EBITDA to £80m and revenue to £240m by the end of 2025, ANS Group is making a number of key strategic hires across its commercial and people divisions.

Richard Thompson

Thompson said: “Having taken some time out to work out my next step after 20 years with TalkTalk, the opportunity at ANS felt like the perfect fit. I love to be the challenger, disrupting markets and generating huge growth. That’s what I saw in ANS.

“This is a Manchester-based tech business with amazing talent, a fantastic renovated workspace on the way, and a massive commitment to not only doubling EBITDA, but then seeing how we can push things even further.”

Thompson joins ANS’s group board alongside CEO Paul Shannon, COO Chris Hodgson, M&A director Catherine Greening, CFO Steve Townsley and chairman Richard Bishop.

Paul Shannon said: “Richard sees in ANS a group of hugely passionate, talented and collaborative people who are relentlessly focused on challenging the status quo in the tech industry and making digital transformation accessible to everyone.

“When you combine all of that with Richard’s knowledge and experience of maximising key strategic partnerships and his track record in building high performing commercial teams, that’s where we really turn up the dial on our growth.”


Manchester telecoms provider M247 has appointed Simon Farley-Smith as product manager in response to the surge in demand for VoIP services. Simon will lead on Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC&C), a key part of the suite of customer services offered by M247, the connectivity and cloud services provider.

Simon Farley-Smith

Simon joins from Deloitte, with previous roles at Puzzel and Capgemini. He is focused on developing the M247 Workplace offering. This brings together UC&C, Performance applications and advanced Contact Centre Solutions, reflecting the changing needs of businesses.

Simon said: “My initial focus at M247 is to build on our world class voice propositions with an optimal customer experience and deepen our Workspace offering.”

M247’s chief portfolio officer, Greg Hudson, said: “The importance of communication in a business cannot be underestimated and unified communications, voice and collaboration tools are increasingly important in modern workplace settings.

“Building on M247’s heritage in connectivity, we are looking forward to further strengthening our offer in this area to ensure that our customers can operate efficiently anywhere, anytime, securely and at speed.”


North West law firm Harrison Drury has appointed hospitality and leisure sector specialist Samantha Faud. Samantha joins as an associate solicitor and will be based at the firm’s Clitheroe office.

With extensive experience acting for clients in the hospitality sector, Samantha will support Harrison Drury’s clients working alongside its commercial property and the licensing teams. In her new role, she will deal with commercial property work for hospitality businesses plus other sectors, by providing advice and support on the acquisition and sale of commercial properties, real estate finance and commercial leases.

Samantha Faud and Simon England

Samantha will also provide valuable client support for both contentious and non-contentious licensing matters that mainly involve regulated entertainment and the sale of alcohol.

Simon England, head of Harrison Drury’s commercial property team, said: “Samantha brings valuable experience to the commercial property team and her in-depth sector knowledge, particularly of the hospitality and leisure arena, will be a real asset to our clients. It’s great to welcome Samantha to the team.”

Samantha, who joins Harrison Drury from Napthens, said: “I’m relishing this new opportunity. These remain very unpredictable times for the business community and I’m looking forward to working alongside colleagues to provide valuable support and guidance to Harrison Drury’s clients.”

Harrison Drury has a 22-strong team of commercial property lawyers across its five offices that deliver a wide range of commercial property and property litigation services to businesses and individuals across the North West.


Digital agency Bespoke has appointed Jennifer Hodges as a senior digital marketer in response to a string of new client wins in the services and manufacturing sectors in both the North West and London.

Bringing with her six years’ experience both in-house and agency, working with clients including Crown Paints and Netflights, Jennifer’s role will focus on online lead generation for key client accounts, working on retainer to a monthly lead generation goal, with tactics including paid search optimisation, organic search optimisation and conversion optimisation.

Jennifer Hodges

She said: “With an established track record over 22 years, Bespoke has generated over £1bn of business for clients, with a key focus on the manufacturing and services sectors.

“Having worked both client-side and agency, I’m really excited by the agency’s partnership-style approach to working closely with inhouse marketeers to achieve the best possible results.”

Employing 12 staff in both Lancashire and London, Bespoke is a lead generation specialist agency. As well as designing and building websites, the agency also delivers online campaigns through retainers to help in-house marketing teams maximise their returns from their online spend.