People: Joe Browns; Smart Repairs; Bradford 2025; and more

Joe Browns, a Leeds-based fashion and home retailer, has confirmed that Michael Truluck had joined as chairman with immediate effect.

The move will be his first chair position after recently leaving his role as CEO of La Redoute International, to spend more time with his family in Yorkshire and to build a non-exec portfolio.

Truluck said: “I join at probably the most exciting time in the brand’s 25-year history. With a unique and confident approach to remarkable product across womenswear, menswear and home it means Joe Browns really stands out in the market – something that has been evident by the growth delivered by Simon, Peter and the team.

“With a great leadership team in place I look forward to supporting them by ensuring Joe Browns is seen and loved by more customers than ever before.

“Be it through stores, an even stronger online experience or third-party partnerships – and from what I have seen already it’s all to play for from a really firm foundation.”

Simon Brown, founder of Joe Browns, added: “I couldn’t be happier to welcome Michael into the Joe Browns family.

“We met years ago during a business meeting and I wrote in my notebook at the time ‘This guy is smart. Keep in-touch.’ I didn’t. Later down the line our paths crossed again, and I made a similar scribble.

“When I learned Michael was looking for a non-exec role I was keen to meet with him and discuss the vision for Joe Browns future, and establish if he shared a similar excitement for our opportunities.

“It’s safe to say he could see the wealth of potential in our unique offering and I’m excited to have him along for the journey.”


Cosmetic vehicle repairer, Smart Repairs, has made a significant new appointment as it expands throughout the UK.

 The Leeds company, based at Weaver Street in Burley, has hired Kaylie Skitt as senior financial controller.

She arrives at Smart Repairs from Pendragon, where she was leader of the finance team for Mercedes, Porsche and Aston Martin. She previously worked for Mercedes Benz in Bradford and JCT600 in Leeds.

Darryl Short, managing director of Smart Repairs, said: “As we continue to grow as a business, it’s right we also strengthen our leadership team to ensure we provide the best service levels to our customers.

“Kaylie’s wide experience in the automotive sector made her the perfect person to support us going into 2024.

“Her ability to understand the specific needs of our customers and bring the support our existing management team require made her our number one candidate.

“We now feel ready to take on the challenges for continued expansion next year and going forward from there. Stability and long-term commitment within our leadership team is key to delivering this growth.”

Bradford-born Skitt, who was educated at Buttershaw High School and Bradford College, said: “The rate at which this company is growing is phenomenal and I am proud to be joining a friendly, hard-working and successful team.

“Smart Repairs has established itself as a major force within the cosmetic repair industry across the UK and I look forward to playing an important role in maintaining and increasing this growth.”


Kersten England. Credit: Tim Smith.

Bradford Culture Company, the charitable organisation behind Bradford 2025, has appointed a new chair and seven new members who are joining its board of trustees.

The trustees bring knowledge and experience from the public, private and voluntary sectors to the executive team governing the strategic direction, policies and planning of the district’s UK City of Culture programme.

Kersten England, former chief executive of Bradford Council, has been appointed chair, having served as a trustee throughout the city’s successful bid campaign which secured the UK City of Culture title.

England, whose career includes senior roles in voluntary and community organisations, higher education and central government, recently retired from more than 30 years in local government.

She will lead the board throughout the development and delivery of the district’s City of Culture programme.

England said: “Being a part of the district’s winning UK City of Culture bid was one of the highlights of my career, and I’m thrilled to be continuing this journey in the role of chair.

“I will oversee and support our new board of trustees to ensure a lasting legacy for the district by keeping the brilliant, growing Bradford 2025 team focused on their core objective – to produce a year of fun and ambitious cultural activity which will act as a catalyst for increased opportunities for local people.”

Also joining the board of trustees are:

  • Phil Batty, chief commercial officer of NEWSUBSTANCE & SKYMAGIC. He brings experience of the UK City of Culture programme having been appointed as director of public engagement for Hull 2017. He is the chair of the Bradford 2025 Programme and Engagement Sub Committee.
  • Sasha Bhat, priority director for healthy minds and deputy director of integration and transformation at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust and the Bradford District and Craven Health and Care Partnership. She has co-designed, implemented and developed mental health services across the district. She is also a member of the Bradford 2025 Programme and Engagement Sub Committee.
  • Carol Dewhurst, CEO of Bradford Diocesan Academies Trust. She will direct and support the Bradford 2025 Engagement team, creating opportunities for young people across the district as part of UK City of Culture. She is a member of the Bradford 2025 Finance, Risk and Sustainability Sub-Committee.
  • Alex Hudson, executive editor at international news platform, Newsweek. He has more than two decades of experience in journalism and technology, developing newsrooms across the world. He is also chair of the Bradford 2025 Audience and Digital Sub Committee.
  • Ruth Ibegbuna, UK social entrepreneur. She is a serial founder of social justice organisations, championing the rights of working class young people. She is CEO of Rekindle Supplementary School and The Roots Programme, aimed at creating a more connected, curious and compassionate UK. She is also a member of the Bradford 2025 Programme and Engagement Sub Committee.
  • Debbie Jukes, general counsel of Eversheds Sutherland (International) LLP (ESI). Jukes, who is treasurer of ReadEasy Leeds, a charity that focuses on adult literacy, is also a member of the Bradford 2025 Finance, Risk and Sustainability Sub-Committee and the Governance and People Sub Committee.
  • Armoghan Mohammed, regional chair for PwC and current chair of trustees of The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. Having grown up in Yorkshire, he is keen to ensure the huge variety of culture and talent that the North has to offer is showcased during Bradford 2025.

Dan Bates, executive director of Bradford 2025, said: “Every one of our trustees brings a unique area of expertise at the highest level, from media and government to finance and tech – that will be instrumental in making sure we deliver our bold plans for this landmark year.

“Each individual is first and foremost a huge advocate for this district, they want our UK City of Culture year to be a success and they will challenge and support us every step of the way to ensure we meet and even exceed our targets and ambitions for 2025 and beyond.”


Leeds-based digital agency, The Marketing Optimist, has hired Social Media Executive Ligita Putane to help steer social media strategy, content creation and campaigns for clients.

She brings over three years of agency and in-house digital marketing experience, previously holding roles at InFlight Agency and Aspire Property Group, focusing on helping businesses grow their social media reach using creative content on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and TikTok.

She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Chinese with Translation studies and a Master’s Degree in Marketing and Advertising from the University of Hull and will bring multilingual language experience to the role, with fluency in four languages.

Putane said: “Besides social media being my job, it’s also a huge hobby and passion of mine. You will often find me creating Reels and TikToks in my spare time, so I’m excited to be able to make the most of my creativity in this new role.”

Richard Michie, CEO, added: “Ligita’s professional journey has taken her through diverse industries, fostering an open-minded and adaptable perspective.

“This experience has enriched her ability to think creatively and strategically. She’s already proving herself to be a great addition to the team, and she has some great ideas and strategies for our social media clients that we can’t wait to implement.

“The internet is throwing up lots of new opportunities and threats to traditional ways of working.

“Going forward I can see a backlash coming against the use of generative AI like ChatGPT and being able to offer a human approach to content creation being a real competitive advantage.”