People: AFA Group; Hall Brown Family Law; Lancaster & Morecambe Chamber; Avison Young; Slater Heelis; Olliers Solicitors

Duaa Rehman is an IVA expert at AFA Group

Manchester-based AFA Group, the parent company of Clear Start Accountants and AFA Insolvency, has significantly bolstered its employee base over the past quarter with 23 new appointments.

Welcoming half of the group’s recent recruits, personal insolvency specialist AFA Insolvency has considerably extended its team. In the past three months, the firm has appointed individuals to a series of positions including Debt Advisor, Drafters and Quality Monitoring roles.

The group’s accountancy and personal budgeting division, Clear Start Accountants, has also made a series of appointments, strengthening its customer service department. The business offers accountancy services for sole traders and smaller firms provided by a team of accountants, as well as its pioneering, tech-enabled, personal budgeting service for both business and private individuals.

Fiaz Ashraf, founder and CEO of the AFA Group, said: “As we continue to experience monumental growth, it is a pleasure to offer a variety of job opportunities in the region and welcome a wealth of new team members to the AFA Group. Expanding our dedicated team is absolutely crucial in helping us to maintain an exceptional level of service for our customers, as we continue to support them with various aspects of financial management.”

With an employee base of more than 150 people, and operating from its contemporary headquarters in Universal Square, Manchester, as well as from its offices in Stockport and Canada, the group offers a suite of services from monthly budgeting services and debt management, to general accountancy support.


James Brown

Hall Brown Family Law has strengthened its support team with a string of appointments, including Will Taylor as its Chief Financial Officer.

Managing Partner, James Brown, has described how seven staff were being promoted for their contribution to the firm’s success.

Three solicitors at its Manchester headquarters – Hannah Currie, Hannah Pilling and Jodi Ford – have all been made Associate Solicitors, while Emma Hubbard’s role in Hall Brown’s Sheffield team is now that of Senior Solicitor.

In addition, Joanne Wilson has become Operations Manager, Eve Fitzpatrick is the new Secretarial Manager and Annelise Stephenson is made up to Accounts Manager.

Mr Brown said that the changes reflected how Hall Brown’s emphasis on appointing “immensely capable people” and helping them realise their full potential had been fully vindicated: “We feel genuinely proud of the progress which all seven individuals and the firm as a whole has made, not just this year but every year since we first opened our doors. Every single person makes a terrific contribution and enables us to live up to the high standards which we set when we launched.”

Hall Brown now employs a total of 69 people, 51 of whom are fee earners.


Graham White

A new senior staff member has been appointed to lead Lancaster and Morecambe Chamber of Commerce.

Graham White has joined the chamber as its new Head of Operations, responsible for leading the staff team and managing activity focused on supporting, connecting, and representing the region’s business community.

He said: “I am very excited and honoured to take on the role. This opportunity allows me to leverage my expertise to support local businesses and contribute to the growing local economy.”

Graham is Lancaster born and bred, attending Ripley St Thomas School and becoming Deputy Head Boy in his last year. Graham worked in a number of roles focused on forging strategic partnerships and identifying growth opportunities. Most recently he was Head of Account Management within a digital marketing agency.

Chamber President, Christopher Gardner, said: “Graham’s appointment signifies an exciting new chapter for the chamber. With his diverse background and proven track record of driving results, Graham is well positioned to strategically lead the chamber and support its mission of empowering local businesses to thrive and succeed.”


David Clifton

Global commercial real estate firm, Avison Young, has announced the appointment of David Clifton as Director in its Manchester office.

David brings to the firm more than two decades of experience working within the UK land and property industry. He has experience working for national and regional housebuilders, property consultancies and, most recently, build to rent developer Placefirst, where he worked as Land and Partnership Director.

Key projects that David has led over the course of his career include the brownfield regenerations of Kitchener Barracks, Chatham, on behalf of Defence Infrastructure Organisation and Springfield Hospital, Wandsworth on behalf of the St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust. From an acquisition perspective, David led on a residential regeneration scheme, Fishmoor Drive, during his time at Countryside Properties. The multi-phased redevelopment comprised 400 residential units across open market, affordable housing and PRS tenures, delivered in partnership with Blackburn and Darwen Council and Together Housing.

Barnaby Hillsdon, Principal at Avison Young UK, welcomed David, saying: “The experience he brings with him from the residential land market will help to bolster our already strong Place team. He has an impressive knowledge of the acquisition, planning and disposal process, and his negotiation and analytical skills will help us deliver great work for our clients.”

Barry Crichton, Regional Managing Director for Manchester at Avison Young, said: “David joins the team at a pivotal time for the residential market. His experience of growing organisations in sectors like build to rent and brownfield regeneration will be invaluable, as the team navigates ever-changing planning laws and market demands. He’s already demonstrating his impact, supporting the wider Manchester team in delivering great work for our clients.”

David Clifton said: “I look forward to continuing the excellent work already undertaken by the Place team, providing the highest quality of service for all clients.”


Tom Basiuk and Clare Cross

Law firm, Slater Heelis, has unveiled two significant appointments to its HR team in Clare Cross and Tom Basiuk.

Clare Cross rejoins the Sale-based firm, this time as Head of HR, bringing 26 years’ experience and will be responsible for overseeing the entire HR function of the business.

Tom Basiuk joins as Senior HR Manager and will take charge of the day to day running of a three-strong HR team. Tom has more than 10 years’ experience in human resources, most recently five years working his way up the HR ladder at property management company, Bolton at Home.

Managing Partner, Chris Bishop, said: “We are thrilled to welcome Clare back to the team, she is truly an expert in her field and brings with her a wealth of knowledge and leadership skills that has immediately benefited the business.

“Likewise, Tom is a true professional and a very capable and safe pair of hands whose experience and career success to date is a testament to his hard work and character. We know he will have a huge impact on our employees in his role as Senior HR Manager and we are looking forward to the pair developing our internal initiatives whilst bringing new, fresh ideas to the firm as we focus on the continued development of our team.”

Previously, Clare worked in the HR division for retailer John Lewis for more than two decades and more recently has enjoyed a successful role as a HR consultant before rejoining Slater Heelis.


From left: Saskia Abbot, Nathalie Potter, Alex Close-Claughton, James Claughton

Criminal defence firm, Olliers Solicitors, has appointed a new associate solicitor to support the firm’s ongoing focus on pre-charge engagement work.

Saskia Abbot undertook her training contract with Olliers, working at the firm between 2011 and 2016. She left to join another leading firm within the Manchester area and has now rejoined Olliers, bringing with her a wealth of knowledge in criminal defence.

Saskia is known for her empathetic nature and dedication to providing clients with the utmost support during what may be the most traumatic period of their lives.

She said: “Olliers is where I discovered my passion for criminal law and having trained at the firm, I know just how exceptional the approach to criminal defence is. I’m thrilled to be back and look forward to working alongside all the new talent that has joined in the years I’ve been gone.”

In addition to bringing Saskia back on board, the firm has announced a string of promotions from April 2024. Nathalie Potter, current Head of Olliers’ DBS Department, will be promoted to Associate, as will James Claughton, while Alex Close-Claughton will be promoted to Senior Associate.

Alex’s main focus is on serious crime, and he has significant experience in dealing with a wide range of matters, including murder, firearms offences, serious assaults, armed robberies and drug conspiracies.

Olliers has also grown its non-fee earning team, recruiting Jake Greenhalgh as a marketing assistant and Tilly Affleck in a support role.

Managing director, Matthew Claughton, said: “It’s fantastic to welcome Saskia back to Olliers – she’s a hugely talented criminal specialist and a real asset to the team. We’re growing in all areas of the firm due to continued regional and national demand, and 2024 is already proving to be quite the year.”

Click here to sign up to receive our new South West business news...