North-West based energy and utility infrastructure specialist, Aberla Group, has announced the appointment of Ben Whawell, the former chief financial officer of Stobart Group, as non-executive chairman with effect from January 2021.
Mike Fletcher will step down from his current position as Aberla’s chairman to allocate more time to focus on his new business venture, multi-family investment office Arete Capital Partners, and to devote more time to his chairman position at AIM listed Energy plc.
Mike has been chairman of Aberla since 2015, where the company’s annual turnover has grown from start up to a £15m enterprise employing 47 people. Mike will continue to serve as a non-executive director.
Mike Fletcher commented, “I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve achieved at Aberla over the last five years. I’ve enjoyed my time as chairman supporting the ambitions of Paul and our management team and seeing the business flourish.
Ben Whawell is well known to me and was identified early on as someone who brings a wealth of operational experience and drive, I’m delighted that we have managed to secure his services. I look forward to working with Ben and the rest of the Board to delivering our next phase of growth.”
Ben Whawell brings over 16 years’ service in the energy industry and previous roles include 10 years as chief financial officer of Stobart Group and 4 years as chief executive officer of Stobart’s Energy division.
During his time with Stobart, Ben was part of the team which led the improvement in the Group’s share price from £1.30 to £3.00, raised £250m in equity and increased the Energy divisions’ EBITDA by 165% from £9.1m to £24.2m.
His success as a leader was recognised across industry, as Whawell was awarded the North West Finance Director of the Year Award on three occasions, in 2009, 2012 and 2013, and the Large Company Finance Director of the Year Award in 2012, which speaks to the quality of his work and his pedigree.
Ben Whawell, Aberla’s new non-exec chairman said, “I am delighted to have been offered the opportunity to become chairman of Aberla. I greatly value the support already shown to me by the Board, and I look forward to working with them.
Aberla has enjoyed superb levels of growth in recent times, and they have the ingredients and the processes in place to be an industry leader. I look forward to being part of their journey.”
Ben will provide Aberla with valuable knowledge and skills in developing strategy and evaluating business opportunities, alongside a strong understanding of the energy sector. His proven track record of strong and dedicated leadership will help take Aberla to the next level.
Paul McCarren, CEO at Aberla said, “We’re really looking forward to Ben joining us and to working with him over the coming months and years. We have ambitious plans and are looking to continuously evolve the business. Having someone of Ben’s calibre and expertise will have immediate benefits.
I’d also like to thank Mike for his commitment to Aberla over the past five years and the role he’s played in developing the organisation.”
The Aberla Group incorporates Aberla Energy, Aberla Utilities and Aberla M&E, and operates across the UK. With the Group head office in Warrington and an M&E office in Manchester, the business has investor backing from Praetura Group Ltd and the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.