Senior comms directors launch consultancy for northern 'growth' businesses

Former comms directors of Lloyds Bank, Virgin Money and the Labour Party have launched a communications consultancy that targets “growth businesses” in North England and Scotland.

56° North founding partners (L-R): Fiona Stanton, Anthony Thompson and John Penman
56° North founding partners (L-R): Fiona Stanton, Anthony Thompson and John Penman

The consultancy, 56° North, has three founding partners: John Penman, Fiona Stanton and Anthony Thompson.

The trio have each worked in communications for more than 20 years in corporate communications, the media and political campaigning across the UK.

Penman was a comms director at Lloyds Banking Group and spent 20 years as a senior journalist, and business and political editor at The Sunday Times, Business a.m. and The Scotsman.

Stanton is a former senior director of the Labour Party, having been general secretary in Scotland and director in the North of England, and has run “over 100 campaigns”, including Labour’s ‘Get out the Vote’ activity during the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum.

Thompson previously led corporate affairs at Virgin Money and has City, public policy and media relations experience leading corporate affairs for TSB Clydesdale, Yorkshire Bank and Scottish Widows/Lloyds Banking Group. 

He was previously a senior director at the CBI, leading its political engagement in the UK and subsequently leading EU lobbying, as director in Brussels.

The new consultacy, which will be based in Edinburgh and Newcastle, offers services in strategic communications, public affairs and campaigns.

The firm promises “specialist experience running communications and policy campaigns in parts of the country which have traditionally been overlooked by other, often London-centric, agencies”. 

The consultancy has launched with a client roster that includes Oxbury Bank, consumer lender Oplo, Crosswind and the Northern Powerhouse Partnership.

“We’re hugely excited about launching 56° North. It’s been clear for some time that many businesses in the North of England and Scotland don’t have access to the high-level support and advice they should,” said Penman.

Stanton added: “We bring an extensive array of experience and specific sector knowledge and skills. We’re based where our clients are, so we know the issues they face and believe we can make a difference, especially in the current context of the constitutional future of Scotland and the Government’s 'levelling up' agenda.”

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