People: Bibby Financial Services; bridge insurance services; Relentless Group; Cundall; Butcher and Butcher; overall fitness

Liverpool-based invoice financier Bibby Financial Services (BFS) has appointed Stephen Hand as UK head of sales to boost its support for SMEs across the country.

Stephen joins BFS with 20 years’ experience in financial services and 13 years working at Lloyds Banking Group in trade finance for SMEs.

He has held a variety of sales leadership positions within Lloyds, most recently as managing director, national head of asset finance sales and billing.

Derek Ryan, UK Managing Director of BFS, said: “Together with the existing talent and experience in our sales team, I am confident that we will be able to significantly increase our support for UK SMEs and trade intermediaries with Stephen at board”.

Stephen joins BFS on October 3, 2022.

He said: “More than ever, it is vital that SMEs have the support they need to thrive and grow. BFS is a hugely innovative company with a fantastic reputation for providing future-focused financial solutions for both SMEs and business advisors. I look forward to meeting with colleagues, clients and intermediary partners in the coming months.”


Bridge Insurance Brokers has invited Andre Backner (36) and Alex Cohen (33) to become members of the board of directors. Andre and Alex are the sons of Bridge founders Mike Backner and Gilbert Cohen, and have both worked at the company for most of their careers.

Andre moved from the London office to Manchester where he was invited to be a director and Alex invited to be the director based in the London office. His promotions to the board level will mean a new era for the business, which was founded more than 50 years ago.

Independent Corporate Insurance Brokers were first established in Manchester’s Northern Quarter and now employ over 100 people across their two offices, with a variety of specialities. Andre and Alex will draw on the team’s experience across sectors, with a particular focus on growing the real estate and construction business in the North and South.

Alex Cohen, left, and Andre Backner

Andre said: “Having been with Bridge for 14 years, I know the inner workings of the organization and I am delighted to have been invited to join the board and move to the Manchester headquarters. The city is in a continuing period of exciting growth and we are a vital part of that growth, working with some of the most influential developers and owners in the region.”

Alex said: “Bridge’s London arm is 11 years old now and building a strong customer base that complements that of our Manchester team. Andre and I look forward to building on the brilliant foundations here at Bridge, introducing new ways of working that will allow us to continue to drive the UK and international brokerage market forward.”

Mike Backner said, “Gilbert and I are incredibly proud of everything Bridge stands for and we both love coming to work. That won’t change, but now is the right time to invite the next generation to the board.

“Andre and Alex will lead the business into its next era, working together with our CEO Roger Potts, our CFO Catherine Moss and our Director of Property Paul Spurway. Andre and Alex will take up their roles once they receive regulatory approval from the FCA. We look forward to seeing them take the lead.”


Katy Leeson, former CEO of Social Chain UK, has joined Gary Neville’s Relentless Group.

Leeson resigned from Social Chain in January after five years at the helm.

As CEO of Relentless Group’s media division, she will work at Salford City FC and Neville’s SkyBet sponsored YouTube channel, The Overlap.

katy leeson

She said: “As a team, we start with responsibilities for the branding and marketing strategies of Salford City FC and The Overlap, which is an absolute dream come true.

“As a child, I grew up attending Oldham Athletic games with my dad. I was able to experience firsthand the magic of watching your heroes play. And the very thought of being able to get local kids so excited to do the same with Salford is enough to get me excited.”

During her time at Social Chain she oversaw the biggest growth in its history, she has also been an advocate for employee mental health, employing a full-time life coach and opt-out therapy sessions for staff.

Leeson joined Social Chain from MediaCom North, where she was director of new business and marketing.


Multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy, Cundall, has appointed two new partners to its global leadership team. The addition of Rob Turner in Manchester and Alejandro (Alex) Saez in Singapore brings the number of partners in the business to 44, strengthening its existing leadership team and paving the way for continued growth.

The announcement comes just two weeks after Cundall announced that Carole O’Neil would take over as global managing partner effective July 1. Carole assumes leadership of the business 15 years after her entry, replacing Tomas Neeson, who served as Managing Partner for eight years and will now act as President of Cundall Partners.

The appointments coincide with the launch of a new strategy for Cundall, which solidifies the global business commitment to sustainability: Cundall has committed to all projects having a zero carbon design by 2030. The strategy also sets goals for the practice to the next 10 years, building on the vision set by previous generations of partners. This includes a renewed focus on culture and ensuring that Cundall remains a people-focused practice.

rober turner

Carole O’Neil said: “Successive generations of Cundall partners have built an incredible business, based on the principle that we will act as custodians of that business for the next generation. Our ethos has always been strongly rooted in sustainability, and I look forward to the input of my new colleagues as we continue to drive this through our business.”

Based in Cundall’s Manchester office, Rob Turner is the UK Head of Acoustics. He joined the practice in 2015 and by that time already had a decade of experience as an acoustical consultant under his belt.

Since then, his passion for holistic and pragmatic engineering and low carbon building solutions has led him to get involved in several high profile projects. These include the English Cities Fund’s £36m Eden Office Building, Manchester Metropolitan University’s Science and Engineering Building and the refurbishment of the Lancashire County Cricket Club’s Red Rose Stand.


The North West law firm of Butcher & Barlow has announced the expansion of its transfer team with the appointment of experienced Chartered Legal Executive, Su Wilson.

With over 35 years of experience in the repossession industry, Su joins Butcher & Barlow to focus on residential repossession delivery within the company’s Frodsham office, one of 10 Butcher & Barlow offices.

As a local resident, Su looks forward to working with local families and individuals to navigate the ever-changing real estate market in and around Frodsham.

its wilson

Su said: “I am delighted to be joining Butcher & Barlow and returning to a traditional law firm, having previously worked remotely at a volume transfer firm.

“There are many aspects to the transfer and some obstacles to go through, but that is why I love being part of the industry: knowing that my role can help ease the burden of making such an important life decision.

“I am looking forward to supporting local people through the process of buying or selling their home, whatever stage of life or personal circumstances they find themselves in.”

Lynsey Stuchfield, Butcher & Barlow’s Residential Property Team Leader, said: “Su has worked in Runcorn, Widnes and Warrington, and brings a wealth of local and expert knowledge to the team.”


Wilmslow-based Total Fitness has made two new appointments to its newly created brand development team, which will oversee the implementation of customer-led brand strategies for the fitness brand and its 15 clubs in the North of England and Welsh.

Kerry Curtis

Employing a different approach to the typical fitness industry organizational structure, Total Fitness has chosen not to take the traditional route of a dedicated fitness team, but rather to form a brand development team that will think differently, driving innovation across through customer knowledge.

Having joined Total Fitness in September 2018 as Head of Marketing, Kerry Curtis has been named Head of Brand Development and will lead this unique new team. Kerry will take a customer-centric approach to brand strategy development and product implementation throughout the company.

dean zweck

Working closely with Kerry, Dean Zweck has been appointed Product Development Manager, after joining the fitness brand in September 2019 as Personal Training Manager. Dean will focus on the creation and implementation of health and fitness products in the 15 Total Fitness clubs.

Kerry Curtis said, “I am excited to be leading the newly created brand development team with customer focus at the heart of every decision we make.”

Dean Zweck said, “Since joining Total Fitness, I have been able to see first-hand exactly how our organization works differently, ensuring our customers’ needs are top priority. With this new role and the broader brand development team, we will be able to truly listen to our members across all of our clubs to build an unrivaled brand experience and create products we know they will love.”

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