People: Mersey Maritime; Kuits; Countryside Partnerships; Cushman & Wakefield; Premier Asset Finance; BDO

Ruth Wood

Just five months after becoming interim chief executive of industry group Mersey Maritime, Ruth Wood, has now been appointed to the role on a permanent basis.

Ruth, a former senior manager at Peel Ports Group and latterly head of commercial at Mersey Maritime, took the helm in July following the departure of Chris Shirling-Rooke, who left to become chief executive of Maritime UK. Since then, Ruth has demonstrated to the Mersey Maritime board that she is the right person to lead the organisation.

Chairman, John Hulmes, said: “Ruth has shown us she possesses the skills, experience, drive and vision to continue the Mersey Maritime success story.

“In her short time as interim chief executive, Ruth has already established a track record of delivery. Mersey Maritime’s presence at London International Shipping Week helped reaffirm the Liverpool city region’s (LCR) status as the UK’s leading maritime cluster. Her recent appointment to the LCR Combined Authority Business and Enterprise Board, demonstrates Mersey Maritime’s commitment to the region’s economy and growth, as well as providing the maritime industry with a critical voice in local strategy and policy.”

Joining Mersey Maritime five years ago from Peel Ports, Ruth took on the role of head of commercial. During her eight years at Peel Ports she was a key member of the team behind the opening of the £400m Liverpool2 container terminal.

Mersey Maritime is the representative body of the Liverpool city region’s £5bn maritime sector, with hundreds of members across more than 30 sub-sectors.

Ruth said: “I’m immensely proud of what we have achieved at Mersey Maritime over the past few years and I am honoured to be appointed as permanent Chief Executive.

“Mersey Maritime is in the vanguard of one of the most important periods of change in the history of our industry. This is underpinned by the Government’s Maritime 2050 strategy and we are playing a major role in its delivery.

“I’m the first woman to lead Mersey Maritime. In an industry that has long been male-dominated, I am immensely proud of that achievement. And I will continue to strive to ensure we build an industry that is inclusive of all sections of our community.”


Nichola Evans

Manchester commercial law firm, Kuits solicitors, has appointed Nichola Evans as a partner and head of dispute resolution.

Nichola has more than 25 years’ experience in dispute resolution specialising in commercial disputes and has extensive experience of high value, complex litigation for both international and UK companies. She has litigated matters both in the domestic courts and arbitration (domestic and international).

Nichola is known for her commercial, pragmatic approach and has considerable experience of alternative dispute resolution, in all its forms.

She said: “I am really pleased to be joining Kuits who have a strong reputation for legal excellence and client service. The dispute resolution team is one of the biggest in Manchester who deal with complex litigation matters. I am looking forward to growing the offering of a very talented team.”

Robert Levy, Kuits’ executive partner, said: “Welcoming Nichola to our team is an exciting and important opportunity for us. Not only does her appointment highlight our commitment to growth but Nichola has significant expertise that will further enhance our services to businesses throughout the region and beyond.”


Gareth Edwards

Countryside Partnerships, the UK’s largest provider of mixed-tenure affordable housing, has made two senior hires in its Merseyside & Cheshire West business.

Gareth Edwards joins as regional customer service director, while Zac Worthington joins as sales and marketing director.

Edwards joins after more than 10 previous years with Redrow, and in excess of 20 years within the industry. At Countryside he will be focused on service delivery and relations with its working partners across its three retail brands (Linden Homes, Bovis Homes and Countryside Homes).

He said: “Having worked across the North West for many years, I have always been aware of and attracted to the work with Countryside Partnerships and its retail brands. I was excited about the future direction of the business and am looking forward to using my experience to enhance our relations with our working partners and service delivery.”

Zac Worthington

Worthington joins from major affordable housing provider L&Q, where he led sales and marketing activities across the Northwest. At Countryside Partnerships he will be driving the sales and marketing efforts across the region.

He said: “After working for more than a decade in the affordable housing sector, Countryside Partnerships’ approach aligns with my own ethos and passion for delivering high quality, multi tenure developments that have community and placemaking at their heart.”

Gemma Hardy, managing director of Countryside Partnerships Merseyside & Cheshire West, said: “Following a major update to our overall strategic direction in September, it’s a very exciting time for Countryside Partnerships. Zac’s experience of mixed-tenure housing delivery and Gareth’s experience and strategic approach will complement and add to our current team’s strength, creating best-in-class functions in both sales and customer service, delivering the best outcomes for our clients and customers.”


From left: Caroline Baker, Claire Pegg, Tom Miller

Real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield has announced 21 senior promotions to partner and international partner across a range of markets and service lines based within the UK & Ireland, including two for its Manchester office.

Claire Pegg (Land, Development & Planning) and Thomas Miller (Capital Markets), have been promoted to partner.

Pegg, a Chartered Town Planner and Planning & Development Surveyor, is responsible for leading the North West’s town planning service. Miller, who last year relocated to Manchester from the firm’s City Investment team in London, works across all sectors within the regional Capital Markets team.

Both have been with Cushman & Wakefield for seven years.

Caroline Baker, head of Cushman & Wakefield’s Manchester office, said: “Their promotions are thoroughly deserved and testament to the positive impact that they have made to our business and clients. I look forward to seeing them continue to grow their careers at Cushman & Wakefield.”


Ashley Butterfield, left, and Ken McKeating

Commercial finance brokerage Premier Asset Finance has appointed Ashley Butterfield to the role of business development director for the North of England.

Ashley joins the Edinburgh-based business from Paragon Bank’s SME lending division, where he was head of the Northern Region.

In his new role, Ashley will primarily be responsible for developing business in the North West, North East and Northern Wales. He will report to Premier Asset Finance managing director, Ken McKeating.

Ashley has a 20-year career in financial services, including roles with the Bank of Scotland, Lloyds Banking Group and Dash Commercial Finance. He spent nearly eight years with Paragon Bank, primarily covering the Northern region.

He said: “I’m looking forward to building the Premier Asset Finance brand across the North of England, supporting SMEs to secure the finance they need to grow their business. Premier has access to over 30 funding partners and has arranged over £1bn of finance for companies across the UK, so has the capability to help British businesses to achieve their ambitions.”

Ken McKeating said: “We are pleased to have recruited somebody of Ashley’s experience to the team. He has the energy and drive to help grow our business across Northern England and we are looking forward to connecting with companies in this market.”


From left: Vince Walker, Angela Cross, Sakib Isa, James Fieldhouse, Lucy Mistry

Accountancy and business advisory firm, BDO has announced the promotion of 256 people across its North West offices. With promotions across all teams in the region, and four people named as partner.

The partner promotions are: James Fieldhouse, in the M&A team; Lucy Mistry and Sakib Isa, both in audit; and Vince Walker in the tax team. All promotions are effective from November 1, 2023.

James’s promotion to partner will bolster the M&A team in Manchester, leveraging BDO’s brand recognition and the opportunities to support growth businesses in the region. James joined the firm in 2002 and has built a strong track record in the North West dealmaking community and extensive sector expertise in areas such as human capital and TMT.

Both Lucy and Sakib are now audit partners, increasing the firm’s capabilities in the North West. Across her 16-year career with BDO, Lucy has consistently demonstrated a strong technical ability and her promotion to partner will play a crucial role in continuing to build the firm’s reputation in the local market.

Meanwhile, Sakib’s promotion recognises his strong track record in the local market, delivery of innovative business initiatives, as well as developing others and acting as a role model.

The firm’s North West R&D team, headed by Vince Walker, has seen a 40% increase in fee income over three years. As the landscape of R&D tax undergoes substantial changes, Vince’s promotion to partner will see him focus on further growing the business and developing the team to stay ahead of these evolutions and supporting clients investing in growth and innovation. In addition to Vince’s promotion, the R&D team has also appointed two new managers to support its growth ambitions.

Angela Cross, head of BDO in the North West, said: “Announcing this latest raft of promotions is my highlight since taking the role of regional managing partner as it’s a celebration and recognition of the strength of our team across all specialisms. We are committed to helping all of our people succeed – whatever that looks like to them. Every colleague who has been promoted today should be incredibly proud and I’m thrilled to congratulate them all.”

Across the North West, BDO has promoted 135 people in Manchester and 121 in its Liverpool office. This news comes on the back of the announcement BDO has invested in a new Manchester office at sustainable development, Eden where its team will move in spring 2024.

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