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Appointment of Chairman Designate – 26 October 2020

26 October 2020


The Unite Group plc, the UK’s leading owner, manager and developer of student accommodation, today announces that Phil White has advised the board of directors that he will retire as Chairman and step down from the Board with effect from 31 March 2021, as previously announced in the Company’s 2019 annual report and accounts. Phil will be succeeded by Richard Huntingford who is the Chairman of Future plc, a FTSE 250 global platform for specialist media.

Richard will join the Unite board as a Non-Executive Director and Chairman Designate on 1 December 2020 and will assume the role of Chairman on 1 April 2021. 

Phil was appointed Chairman of the Unite Board in 2010. As previously announced, Phil’s tenure on the Board was extended following the Liberty Living acquisition to ensure continuity during a critical stage of the integration of the business.  Phil had previously indicated that he would not offer himself for re-election at the 2021 Annual General Meeting.

Richard, a chartered accountant, has over thirty years of plc board experience including as Chief Executive of Chrysalis Group plc between 2000 and 2007 and as a Non-Executive Director of Virgin Mobile Holdings (UK) plc. His Chair roles have included Wireless Group plc (formerly UTV Media plc), Creston plc and Crown Place VCT plc. In addition to chairing Future plc (since February 2018), Richard is a Non-Executive Director of JP Morgan Mid Cap Investment Trust plc and The Bankers Investment Trust plc.

Phil White, commenting on the changes said: “I am delighted with Richard’s appointment as  Chairman Designate; his extensive track record and board experience demonstrates that he has the range of skills and experience for the role.  I would like to welcome Richard to the Board and I look forward to working with him over the coming months to ensure a smooth handover of duties.  Unite is a great business with great people and it has been a privilege to have played just a small role in its success over the past decade.”

Richard Huntingford, commenting on his appointment said: “I am delighted to be joining the Board of Unite.  I have a strong empathy for Unite’s ‘Home for Success’ purpose which plays a fundamental role in helping students make a success of their time at University.

Unite’s market-leading proposition, and its strong University relationships, provide a firm foundation for long-term sustainable growth.”

Richard Smith, Unite’s Chief Executive, said: “On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Phil White for his leadership over many years and his contribution to the growth of Unite and making Unite the business it is today. Great people are at the heart of any business and Phil led this from the top.  On a personal note, I would like to thank Phil for his support and guidance.  I look forward to working with Richard as we look to the future with confidence and embrace the exciting opportunities ahead.”

No further information is required to be disclosed pursuant to Listing Rule 9.6.13.


For further information, please contact:

Unite Students

Richard Smith / Joe Lister / Michael Burt                      

Tel: +44 117 302 7005

Unite press office                                                             

Tel: +44 7754 749 301


Justin Griffiths / Victoria Heslop                                    

Tel: +44 20 7250 1446