Movers & Shakers: Expanded team for Smart Garden Offices

Luke Hardman, Gemma Garner and Michelle Wootton of Smart Garden Offices.

Luke Hardman, Gemma Garner and Michelle Wootton of Smart Garden Offices. - Credit: Archant

Smart Garden Offices, based at Thurston near Bury St Edmunds, has recruited seven new team members, four in manufacturing roles and three to its client support team.

Luke Hardman has joined the company as product manager, working on the development and future launch of new ranges and products.

Luke joins Smart with over 15 years sales and business development experience in a number of industry sectors, including merchant services, personal insurance, franchising and property.

Gemma Garner joins the company as cffice manager, having recently returned from three years living and working in Australia and New Zealand.

In a newly developed role, she will assiste customers and ensure the smooth transition of their orders with the groundworks and office installation teams, building on her previous work experience in business support and development, customer service and accounts.

Michelle Wootton, joins as marketing manager following a move from University Campus Suffolk where she was formerly head of marketing.

She has an established background in marketing and communications in the telecommunications and commercial work space sectors and is known locally for establishing Basepoint Business Centres in Suffolk.

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Director Charlie Dalton said; “Smart is built on an ethos of retaining our small, but capable, personalised service throughout the customer journey. I know that Luke, Gemma and Michelle will bring their unique skills, experience and personal qualities to what we offer here at Smart, to enable us to continue to grow and provide market-leading, distinctive products and successfully deliver them to market.”

: : East Anglian law firm Birketts has appointed eight new trainee solicitors after recently reporting a record turnover of over £34.5million for the last financial year.

The appointments represent the firm’s annual trainee intake at its Cambridge, Chelmsford, Ipswich and Norwich offices.

The trainees and their respective first departments at Birketts are Hannah Bayfield (property), Marion Bennett (property), Georgia Garvin (corporate), Jonathan Parker (private client), Georgia Robertson (corporate), Ben Saraci (corporate), Sarah Watters-Quilty (corporate) and Anna Willis (private client).

Chief executive officer Jonathan Agar said: “With a rich heritage spanning over 150 years we’ve built an enviable track record advising businesses, institutions and individuals in the UK and internationally. As we continue to grow it is essential that we ensure our trainee intake provides us with talented and ambitious lawyers who will embrace our commitment in providing exceptional client service.

“The financial results cap a strong period of growth for the firm, with turnover almost doubling to £35m for 2014/15 over the past five years. With office moves planned for Cambridge in a matter of weeks and Ipswich in 2017, this year’s intake join us at a very exciting period in the firm’s history.”

Human resources director Shaun Savory said that due to the firm’s growth, it would be increasing future annual trainee intake from eight to 10.

: : A construction firm employee celebrated 30 years at the same company with fish and chips on the beach.

Steve Hembery, who works for Gipping Homes, based at Baylham, near Ipswich, started as an apprentice in 1985.

To mark the 30 year milestone, he took time out with colleagues to celebrate the landmark on the beach in Felixstowe, in front of The Bartlet development where he is now based.

Steve, who is 45 and lives in Baylham, worked his way up from a site carpenter to be a project manager.

“Not many people can claim to work for the same company for two decades but I wouldn’t consider going anywhere else,” he said.

“Working on The Bartlet development has been a fantastic experience, we’re bringing it back to life whilst securing its legacy and developing beautiful properties – it’s been an honour to be part of the project and work with such a dedicated team.”

Director Heather Blemings said: “Steve is such an integral member of the team and we’re honoured that he has given Gipping Homes 30 years of hard work and dedication.

“We are a family-run business and working together as a team is at the heart of how we operate. We love nothing more than seeing talent develop from a young age and Steve is a perfect examples of this. He acts as a mentor to our current group of trainees and we are exceptionally lucky to have that expertise as part of what we can offer customers.”

Gipping Homes is currently developing The Bartlet and Bath Hotel in Felixstowe into luxury living apartments and townhouses.

: : East Anglian law firm Ashton KCJ has recruited corporate partner James Tarling to join its corporate and commercial team in Norwich.

James, who joins the firm as a partner, specialises in corporate finance transactions and advising innovative technology companies.

He previously held a senior director role in another Norwich firm where he worked for 16 years.

He brings with him a wealth of experience in leading corporate transactions and guiding businesses through complex intellectual property, data protection and privacy issues. James also has particular experience working within the motorsport industry with clients valuing his detailed understanding of the technical and sporting regulations governing the sport.

Notable work highlights include establishing an international joint venture for the development and exploitation of new technologies for use in F1 cars and advising and negotiating on behalf of a rally driver in relation to his commercial rights.

He also advised on a £10m local authority telecoms and broadband contract and has dealt with the sale and purchase of many local, national and international businesses.

James said: “It is fantastic to have joined a firm with such a great reputation and to be working with such a dynamic and progressive team of lawyers. The whole firm has a real enthusiasm to continue to innovate the way in which we work to continuously improve the services we can provide to clients.”

: : Steve Smith has joined the Chestnut Group as its first group general manager. Steve has more than 20 years of food and beverage experience in the catering and hospitality industry, most recently as general manager with Sodexo Prestige looking after the St Edmundsbury Collection group of five contracts.

He brings his broad expertise and knowledge of the hospitality sector to the growing firm. He has considerable experience in hotel and event management as well as working with Delia Smith at Norwich City Football Club for 10 years before setting up his own catering and hospitality consultancy in East Anglia.

He is responsible for the day-to-day operational running of the group’s individual businesses which are currently The Packhorse Inn in Moulton, near Newmarket, The Rupert Brooke in Grantchester, Cambridge, and a new site in Bury St Edmunds scheduled to open next year.

Steve said: “I am really looking forward to being able to bring to bear all my past experiences for this broad-ranging and central role.”

: : Ingatestone-based publicist Jennifer Spencer-Charles has set up a new PR agency aimed at promoting the county, its businesses, charities, schools and people.

After more than 10 years working as a publicist across both public and private sector, she has set up The Essex Press Office in order to encourage more people to live and work in the country.

“I have been privileged enough to work for some of the most amazing companies in the county.

“My role was to help promote them and shine a light on how fantastic they are - but what it did for me, was shine a light on how fantastic this county is and what tremendous businesses and people we have here,” she said.

She has worked with start-up companies in her previous role supporting Essex County Councils’ INVEST Essex team, and for several London-based PR agencies.