People: Kuits; Weightmans; PHX Training; Blume; Mills and Reeve; AFA Group

Four new partners at Kuits

Manchester commercial law firm, Kuits solicitors has promoted four of its lawyers to Partners following another year of growth for the firm.

Rebecca Lowe (Licensing), Claire Heron (Residential Property), Claire Hollins (Employment) and Kate Gledhill (Corporate) have all been promoted to Partners.

Meanwhile, Associates Saadia Javed from Kuits’ Tax team and Claire Treacy from the Employment team have been promoted to Senior Associates.

Finally, solicitors Claire Morris, Tiffany Whitwam, Stacey Rees, Charlie Mallinson and Lauren Ogden have all been promoted to Associates.

Managing Partner, Steve Eccleston said: “We appreciate the efforts of all our staff in contributing to the growth and success of the firm and are extremely proud of the commerciality and technical skills that our team at Kuits demonstrate.”

Robert Levy, Executive Partner said: “We are very proud to announce the promotion of these outstanding team members who are key to the ongoing success of the firm. All of these individuals demonstrate the values of Kuits through their commitment to our firm, our people and our clients.”


Sadie Seabrook

National law firm Weightmans has welcomed Sadie Seabrook to its police team in Liverpool.

She represents police forces and their insurers across the country. She is a nationally recognised, specialist police law practitioner with over 20 years’ experience and an in-depth knowledge of the requirements, pressures and sensitivities surrounding police forces and their insurers. She joins Weightmans from Clyde and Co where she was a legal director.

Daniel Rutherford, partner and head of Weightmans’ emergency services department, said:

“Sadie is an extremely talented lawyer and undertakes complex, high value and sensitive claims for multiple forces. She has a formidable reputation in successfully defending claims brought against the police. She has a reputation as a real fighter and is held in incredibly high regard by our clients. She will be a valuable addition to our team, and we are delighted that she has joined us.”

Sadie Seabrook, legal director, said: “Weightmans is a firm I have always admired. It has outstanding lawyers, a client-focused ethos and a police law team that is second to none. As such, I am thrilled to be joining the team. This is an especially difficult time for our police forces across the country and I look forward to joining my colleagues in working closely with forces to continue to deliver exceptional legal advice and cost-effective solutions.”


Lancashire training provider PHX Training has appointed Julie Oddie as a new business manager to help lead its skills programmes.

She will help to deliver programmes designed to help individuals looking to develop professional and personal skills through career coaching, workshops and mentoring. She previously spent nine working at training and development organisation GP Strategies.

As part of her role based in Morecambe, Julie is responsible for the company’s Skills and Welfare to Work programmes, driving contract performance, and the delivery of quality standards and budget levels.

Julie says: “I’m looking forward to supporting the PHX drive and continuing the already stellar work it has been doing with the residents of Morecambe and Lancaster.

“Our expert staff can help people of all ages reskill to find their next job, or help bosses to train and grow their workforce to become more skilled and work-ready.”

PHX Training recently relocated to a larger site in Morecambe to accommodate its growing number of learners in the town where it has had a presence since 2012. The office has 10 members of staff and still growing, with plans to recruit for additional roles in the future.

PHX Training is a North West training provider that offers a range of training and vocational courses, including basic English and maths and IT skills, up to specific sector qualifications in health and social care, warehousing and business administration.

It also supports people back in to work by building training plans and careers advice, free access to computers and printers, CV writing workshops and interview techniques, as well as access to local employers who are recruiting.


Mark Fearnley

Specialist professional marketing collective, Blume, has appointed Mark Fearnley as its new Contact Centre Operations Manager, based at its new office in South Manchester.

With over 25 years’ experience working in operations, he joins Blume from Countrywide where he was Head of Panel Management, following previous roles with Simpson Millar, Manchester Airport Group (MAG) and Landmark Information Group.

In his new role, he will be responsible for managing customer service level expectations, and monitoring, reporting upon and driving service performance to ensure Blume’s clients receive a consistent and first-class service.

Commenting on his appointment, Mark Fearnley says: “Blume’s back story and spirit, combined with its dynamic and fast-paced environment, really attracted me to the role. The contact centre teams are so passionate about what they do, and so proud about the customer service they deliver, I was bowled over by their balance of professionalism, positivity and personality. I’m very excited to join the business and support its already impressive growth.”

Lisa Emsley, Blume’s Chief Operating Officer says: “As a fast-growing and ambitious business, it’s crucial that our management team continues to evolve with some of the sector’s best talent. Mark’s experience and industry knowledge is second to none and he joins Blume at both a very busy and exciting time for the business.”

Blume moved into its new office premises at Egerton House in Didsbury in April, and has doubled the size of its workforce in the last 12 months.


Daniel Hunt, Group MD of AFA Group pictured with Fiaz Ashraf, AFA Group Founder & CEO

Manchester-headquartered AFA Group, has appointed Daniel Hunt as new Group Managing Director, promoted from his role of MD of AFA Insolvency.

Daniel’s appointment also follows significant growth for the group, which closed the year (2023) with a highly impressive 87.5% uplift in value of sales – rising to a noteworthy £15 million, from £8 million in 2022.

As part of his newly expanded role, Daniel will now also oversee AFA Group’s accountancy and personal budgeting division Clear Start Accountants which offers accountancy services for sole traders and smaller firms provided by a team of qualified 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, commented: “AFA Insolvency has benefited greatly from Daniel’s analytical, strategic and organised approach. By appointing Daniel to the more senior group role, he will be working very closely with myself to drive forward all trading divisions, both here in the UK and internationally.”

Daniel Hunt said: “Over the past four years, I have been involved indirectly with the other divisions within the group, and my appointment to Group MD will enable me to play a greater part on a more formal basis. The AFA Group has seen such monumental growth and I am looking forward to playing my part in its continued future success.”      

AFA employs over 185 people and is based in Universal Square, Devonshire Street North, Manchester, as well as from its offices in Stockport.


Simon Prendergast

Law firm Mills and Reeve has appointed Simon Prendergast to spearhead the growth of its asset based lending practice and the launch of its Manchester banking team.

Simon, one of the UK’s leading finance lawyers, has joined as a partner from the London office of Dentons. He was previously a partner in the Manchester banking team at Addleshaw Goddard.

Simon has more than 20 years’ experience in acting for UK clearing banks, international financial institutions, challenger banks and independent asset based lenders. He has developed one of the UK’s leading practices advising on asset-based lending and receivables financing and has advised on some of the most complex deals in the ABL market in recent years. Simon is ranked as a “Leading Individual” for asset based lending in Legal 500 (being one of

only 15 lawyers in the UK with that ranking) and is described as “exceptionally professional but personable, easy to talk to and stays calm under pressure”.

Chris Ross, head of the Manchester office, said: “The Manchester office has grown significantly and although we are supported by a wider banking team, having a partner with the calibre of Simon on the ground, is a significant step forward in demonstrating our drive to continue to grow our presence in the city.”

“Simon is a welcome addition to the Manchester office and his appointment will enhance the profile of our growing corporate, commercial and real estate teams, open up relationships with local lenders and intermediaries and provide a full service offering to our corporate clients.”

Simon said: “Mills and Reeve already has a well-regarded asset based lending team with an impressive roster of clients. I’m looking forward to bringing my experience and relationships in the ABL market to help drive the growth of the national ABL practice.”


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