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Placefirst, one of the UK’s leading providers of award-winning rental communities, is pleased to announce the appointment of St Modwen veteran Bill Oliver as Chairman and Kier’s David Mawson as Chief Executive as the firm continues its ambitious expansion plans. Bill and David will begin in early March 2020, taking over from David Smith-Milne, Placefirst’s founder.

Bill, a veteran of the housebuilding market with over 35 years’ experience, currently serves as Non-Executive Deputy Chairman of Churchill Retirement Plc and Non-Executive Director of Safestore Holdings Plc. Bill retired from the Board of FTSE 250 property developer St Modwen in 2016, having joined as Finance Director in 2000 before stepping up the role of CEO four years later. Prior to St Modwen, he held roles at Barratt Developments, Alfred McAlpine, The Rutland Group and Dwyer Estates. A qualified Chartered Accountant, Bill was a member of the advisory board of the Government’s Regeneration Investment Organisation and a Land Commissioner for the West Midlands Combined Authority.

David Mawson is an experienced managing director with a track record in delivering organic development and profitable growth. He joins from Kier Group plc where he latterly led the group’s FM Business, Housing Maintenance Business and Environmental Business. Prior to Kier, David held a number of Director roles at Connaught and Wharfedale Developments and had a voluntary position as a Non-Executive Board Member of Community Gateway Housing Association.

Placefirst is a pioneer of the fast-growing BTR (build-to-rent) market and has delivered over 500 homes across the north of England, specialising in transforming neglected inner-urban neighbourhoods through innovative refurbishment, development and a commitment to community placemaking.

A blend of cornerstone and new investment from ESO Capital supports Placefirst’s ambitious growth plans. With a secured pipeline of over 1,500 homes and an ambition to deliver 4,000 homes by 2023, the company is set to expand from its north of England base into new regions including the Midlands and Scotland. The near-term development pipeline includes new sites at Wolverhampton, Bolton, Newcastle and Manchester.

The company has significantly broadened its senior executive team under the leadership of Placefirst founder David Smith-Milne, who led the business since its foundation in 2009 and has now stepped back from the managing director role as part of a transition plan. David was instrumental in shaping the strategy and building the strong relationships with local authorities, landowners and other stakeholders which set the foundations for strong future growth. David has sold a substantial amount of his stock in Placefirst to ESO Capital, albeit remains a significant shareholder. He is now exploring other property start-up ventures.

Bill Oliver, Chairman of Placefirst, commented:

Placefirst is one of the UK’s truly inspirational developers of rental housing, providing modern families with the quality homes they need. There is no coincidence that the build-to-rent market is growing rapidly as we struggle as a nation to solve the acute shorting of housing. I am very much looking forward to applying my experience to support Placefirst’s growth.

Bill Oliver

 

David Mawson, incoming Chief Executive of Placefirst, added:

I am delighted to be joining Placefirst at such an exciting time for the company. Through the strong leadership of founder David Smith-Milne, Placefirst has quickly established itself as a leader in the UK build-to-rent market and has an ambitious pipeline of funded growth. I’m looking forward to working with the talented Placefirst team and hitting the ground running when I join in early 2020.

David Mawson

David Smith-Milne, founder and former managing director of Placefirst, commented:

Having founded Placefirst some 10 years ago, I am proud that we are now firmly recognised as a pioneer in developing homes for rent properties. It is a testament to the team that Placefirst offers a genuine quality alternative to home ownership for the growing number of in-work households unable to access home ownership and our commitment to quality has resulted in over 20 national and regional awards over the last three years. I have no doubt that the firm will go from strength to strength.

David Christie, Head of ESO Real Estate, commented:

David Smith-Milne’s enthusiasm and drive to grow Placefirst was one of the key reasons we were attracted to first invest in the business back in 2016. We want to thank him for all his hard work and dedication and wish him well for the future. We welcome Bill Oliver and David Mawson, who offer a wealth of industry knowledge, and look forward to working with them as Placefirst pushes forward with its next phase of growth towards becoming a national leader in UK build-to-rent housing.

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