New CEO for Unite Students

Richard Smith to succeed Mark Allan as Chief Executive Officer of Bristol-based student accommodation provider

Bristol based Unite Students, the UK’s leading developer and manager of student accommodation, announces that Mark Allan is leaving the business and Richard Smith will be promoted to Chief Executive Officer, with effect from 1 July 2016.

After 17 years with Unite, including ten as CEO, Mark has decided to take up the role of CEO at St. Modwen Properties PLC. Mark will remain with the Group in an advisory role until 31 October to support Richard and ensure a smooth transition. 

Richard joined Unite in 2010 and has been a member of the Group’s Board since January 2012, when he was appointed as Managing Director of Operations.  In this role, he has led the operational delivery and service provision to the Group’s 46,000 customers, launched the Home for Success programme which has successfully strengthened the business’ market leading position and financial performance; and been at the forefront of establishing and building key relationships with university stakeholders.

Prior to this, he spent 18 years in the transport industry, working in the UK, Europe, Australia and North America. Richard spent 13 years at National Express Group where he held a range of senior finance, strategy and operations roles, including Group Development Director and Chief Financial Officer, North America.

Alongside the wider senior management team, Richard has been a crucial part of Unite’s success in recent years

The business continues to trade positively and in line with management expectations. Commenting on Richard Smith’s appointment, Phil White, Chairman of Unite, said: ‘I would like to thank Mark for his outstanding performance as CEO since 2006. Unite’s performance has been transformed under his tenure and he leaves the business well positioned to continue its growth and profitability. On behalf of the Board, I wish him the very best for the future.

“I am delighted to announce that Richard is succeeding Mark as Chief Executive Officer. As Managing Director of Operations, and an existing Plc Board member, Richard has been at the heart of Unite’s market-leading offering for the last five years, working closely with the existing experienced executive team, and is already a very familiar face to investors.

“His background in finance, strategy and operations means he is ideally placed to continue Unite’s proven strategy of: building the most trusted brand in the sector, operating the highest quality portfolio and maintaining the strongest capital structure. I am confident Richard will provide excellent leadership for the Group.”

Richard Smith said: ‘I am pleased to accept the role of Chief Executive of Unite. With a clear development pipeline, a positive rental growth environment and a very scalable operating platform, Unite has a very visible growth trajectory. I am surrounded by an outstanding team and look forward to taking the company to new heights and continuing to deliver attractive shareholder returns.’

Mark Allan said: “It is with a very heavy heart that I leave Unite, but I leave the company in the extremely capable hands of Richard and the executive team. Alongside the wider senior management team, Richard has been a crucial part of Unite’s success in recent years. Unite’s strategy is very clear and well-flagged to the investment community and I look forward to following the company’s continued success with close interest.”

 W: www.unite-students.com