People: Pixel Kicks; Your Housing Group; Assetz Capital; Aaron & Partners; Harwood Private Capital; Deepbridge Capital

Jamie Bray, Luke Ratcliffe, Cora Maruc, Fiona Hammond

Pixel Kicks, the Manchester-based full service digital agency, has made four new appointments in its business development, project management and web development teams.

Jamie Bray is Pixel Kicks’ new business development manager. Jamie has joined the agency from Shopblocks. He also previously worked for Deliveroo. Jamie’s primary focus will be on identifying high quality new business opportunities from a steady feed of inbound enquiries, as well as proactively building a qualified new business pipeline.

In the web development team, Luke Ratcliffe has joined as a UX designer while Cora Marcu is its newest junior front-end developer. Luke’s previous role was at Cultivate Creative where he worked for nine years. Cora started her career in digital marketing and project management but after six years she decided to move into web development. She recently relocated from Romania and is a graduate of Manchester Codes.

The final new appointment is Fiona Hammond, project coordinator. Fiona has just graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University after achieving a First Class Honours in Digital Media and Communications. While studying, she freelanced for 50 Pound Social and also interned at Supremo.

This latest batch of new starters has increased Pixel Kicks’ total headcount to 19. The agency has also recently won a string of new contracts and launched major projects for brands including UA92, Marvelous Games, PRGX and Joseph Holt.

Chris Buckley, MD, said: “The past 12 months has been a transformational period for the agency and has seen rapid growth in both our client roster and team. Pixel Kicks’ success is solely based on the talents and expertise of its people and I’m sure Jamie, Luke, Cora and Fiona will play an instrumental part in our ongoing expansion plans.”


Brian Cronin, CEO of Your Housing Group (YHG), has announced his retirement after 25 years’ service, 18 as CEO.

Brian Cronin

Deputy chief executive, Jacque Allen, has been appointed as interim chief executive with immediate effect, while the board undertakes a formal appointment process.

Brian has been a valued and long standing CEO, taking Grosvenor Housing Association with a stock of 4,000 units, through mergers with Arena HA and finally YHG in 2012, creating a circa 26,000-unit housing association.

Steering YHG through its first 10 years, Brian has led the group with a clear focus on its vision to create more places for people to thrive.

Over the past decade, YHG has helped almost 1,000 people get on the property ladder through shared ownership, generated £133m in social value, supported 1,388 young people through its foyers, and created a business where 91% of staff would recommend it as a great place to work.

Brian has taken the decision to step down so that he can turn his attention to fresh challenges and spend more time with his family. He said: “It’s has been a long and exciting journey, but now I feel it is the right time to hand the reins to someone else who will take YHG to the next level. I would like to thank colleagues, past and present, involved customers, partners and of course the board for all their support during my time as CEO.”

Jacque Allen

Richard Groome, group chair, said: “Brian has been a great ambassador for YHG bringing innovation, commerciality and genuine care for our staff and customers. We all want to thank Brian for everything and wish him all the best in his retirement.

“Thank you to Jacque for stepping into the role as interim chief executive. Jacque has made a substantial contribution to YHG already, is highly regarded in the sector and a natural choice to take on this role.”

Jacque has worked within the social housing sector for more than 29 years. She joined YHG as chief operating officer in April 2020, at the height of lockdown, taking the lead to ensure staff were supported and customers remained at the heart of everything, even during challenging times. One year later she was appointed as deputy CEO.


Specialist marketplace lender, Assetz Capital, has appointed Andrew Charnley to the newly-created role of managing director.

Andrew joins the Manchester-based business having spent 28 years working in commercial lending across various asset classes and having undertaken a number of senior leadership roles, most recently at Together, a specialist lender, which offers short term finance, auction finance,
personal, commercial and buy-to-let mortgages, development funding and secured loans.

Going forward, Charnley will focus on Assetz Capital’s lending side of the business. He will oversee a team of 130, reporting directly to Stuart Law, Assetz Group CEO.

Andrew Charnley

The appointment follows a raft of senior hires in the region, with Jason Way (business development director), James Evans (relationship director) and John McDonell (relationship director) joining the origination side of the business in recent months.

Andrew said: “Assetz Capital has consistently been a market leader in the UK alternative lending sector, supporting thousands of UK SMEs and financing billions of pounds-worth of new housing. At the same time, Assetz has provided a desperately needed alternative to high street lending which has under-served crucial economic sectors over recent decades.

“I’m excited to join the team at a critical moment in the Assetz growth story, as we look to continue to drive market share and innovation, consolidating our position as one of the UK’s top specialist lenders and a business which is growing ever more ambitious in terms of the impact it makes on society.”

Stuart Law said: “Andrew will play a huge role in taking Assetz Capital to the next level of growth as we set our sights on growing our influence in the wider housing market.

“One of our longer term targets is to fund 25% of the SME housebuilding sector and Andrew’s vast experience will support that ambition.”


A fast-growing Top 200 law firm in Chester has established a new standalone restructuring and insolvency department.

Aaron & Partners has appointed partner Mark Davies to head the new department, formed out of what was the dispute resolution and insolvency group. The dispute resolution department will continue to be led by senior partner Nick Clarke.

Mark Davies

Mark has been with the firm for six years and has more than 30 years’ experience advising on insolvency issues.

He said: “Our sub-team has seen sustained growth, undertaking a range of insolvency-related litigation work alongside an increasing number of advisory and transactional assignments.

“Restructuring and insolvency is very much a specialism and a niche area. We are fortunate to have a team of experienced specialists, recognised for its expertise in the Legal 500 industry directory.

In addition to his legal work, Mark is a full member of industry body R3 and has regularly chaired and spoken at conferences.


Harwood Private Capital has appointed Paul Leyland as investment director to lead its presence in the North West.

It launched its maiden fund in May 2020, focused on making minority equity investments into SME businesses across the UK. Alongside its equity investments, the fund can also provide flexible debt capital to support SME businesses. The fund will typically invest between £3-20m to deliver MBOs, shareholder restructurings, acquisitions and growth capital into family, entrepreneur and owner-managed businesses, generating upwards of £1m EBITDA.

Paul Leyland

Haseeb Aziz, managing partner of Harwood Private Capital, said: “Paul’s appointment to head up our presence in the North West is a key next step for Harwood Private Capital and demonstrates the firm’s commitment to the region. Paul will help deliver our ambitions of supporting the shareholders and management teams of great businesses who are looking for a flexible financial partner without having to cede majority control typically associated with traditional private equity.”

Paul Leyland said: “Having spent my career in the North West SME sector, the fund’s focus on providing flexible minority, preferred and structured equity capital will resonate with owner-managers and ambitious management teams across the region.”

Harwood Private Capital is part of the Harwood Capital Management Group, managing more than £1.1bn of capital, invested into small and lower mid-market companies across the UK and Ireland. The group has delivered more than 150 investments and is a key investor in both public and private equity markets.


Venture capital investment manager, Deepbridge Capital, has today appointed Simon Thelwall-Jones to the newly created role of venture partner.

Thelwall-Jones brings a wealth of experience as a qualified Chartered Accountant, an experienced company director and a corporate finance expert, with most recent roles being investment director at MSIF, followed by director of technology ventures for the Development Bank of Wales. The newly-created role will initially be focused on working with a number of Deepbridge’s high growth portfolio companies, while also working on a number of new fund opportunities.

Simon Thelwall-Jones

This appointment forms part of a wider restructure within Deepbridge, with Dr Savvas Neophytou moving from the role of head of life sciences to become chief investment officer, Louise Farley becoming head of private placement, Andrew Aldridge as chief marketing officer and Steve Shallcross, chief information and technology officer, now a partner.

Deepbridge reported a record year of fundraising during the 2021/22 tax year, supporting investee companies within the Deepbridge Technology Growth EIS and Deepbridge Life Sciences EIS funds.

Ian Warwick, managing partner, said: “Deepbridge has grown rapidly over recent years, becoming one of the largest EIS fund managers, and in order to continue to provide the hands on support to our maturing portfolio of investees, it is important that we enhance our structure and team.”

Dr Savvas Neophytou, CIO, said: “Our approach to providing investors with access to early stage companies is relatively unique and we require a certain skillset, which Simon has in abundance. We look forward to continuing our growth and supporting more early-stage companies. We have a number of exciting announcements ahead as we continue to grow our team, so watch this space.”

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