Knowles to power-share at Dibbs

NIGEL Knowles, the colourful managing partner at Dibb Lupton Alsop, has had some of his responsibilities passed on to a new 'operations partner' as part of a management shake-up at the firm.

The reorganisation which will also see the departure from the firm of Alsop Wilkinson's former operational chief Christopher Honeyman-Brown is being viewed by insiders as an attempt to adopt a more consensual style of management.

The changes will also see the firm's senior partner, Robin Smith, step down from the senior partner post he has held for five years.

The new operations partner post is to be filled by partner Andrew Chappell, who is head of the firm's debt recovery unit at Bradford.

He will work alongside Knowles, whose prominent position within the firm has been reaffirmed by his re-election for another three-year stint.

Knowles is well-known for having a robust management style. He reportedly faced criticism by members of the firm in December 1996 after they learned they were paying off two retiring partners, one having threatened to sue for breach of the partnership agreement.

Knowles had pushed to have the partnership deed changed to make annuities discretionary after the merger between Dibb Lupton Broomhead and Alsop Wilkinson three months earlier.

One partner, Will Holt resigned from the partnership board in December 1996. A few weeks later Chappell was elected to the board.

Speaking about his appointment, Chappell denied that internal disputes had anything to do with the creation of the operations partner post.

'It's just a recognition that, since the merger, the business needs two people in an executive role such as this,' he said.

Honeyman-Brown is in negotiations to join an accountancy firm.

Smith, who retires as senior partner in April, will return to his practice in Leeds.

The firm is also in the process of its elections to fill three positions on the 10-member partnership board.

Two of the nine candidates, Michael Clarke and Peter Wayte are standing again for their old seats. The occupant of the third seat, Phillip Perry is not seeking re-election.

A spokesperson for the firm said: 'We're a year into our merger it was time to review our management structure.'