Board of Directors
The members of our Board of Directors draw on a deep well of experience and expertise to oversee every aspect of Connect Group’s work.
David Blackwood Chairman
David has extensive business and listed company experience, notably in Finance, Audit and Risk. David uses his experience and knowledge, to lead the Board in reviewing and approving management’s plans for the development of the Group’s strategy and operational performance. As Chair of the Nominations Committee, David is also responsible for leading the assessment of the capabilities and skills of the executive and non-executive leadership, and for longer-term succession planning.
David was formerly Chief Financial Officer of Synthomer plc where he was employed for seven years, stepping down in 2015, prior to which he held a number of senior roles within Imperial Chemical Industries plc (ICI). David has also previously served as a member of the Cabinet Office Audit and Risk Committee and on the Board for Actuarial Standards. He is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and a Fellow of the Association of Corporate Treasurers (ACT).
Other current appointments
Stobart Group PLC, Audit Committee Chair
Dignity plc, Audit Committee Chair and Senior Independent Director
Scapa Group plc, Audit Committee Chair and Senior Independent Director
Jonathan Bunting Chief Executive Officer (and CEO of Smiths News)
Jonathan Bunting joined the Board on 1 April 2010.
Jonathan has deep commercial and operational leadership skills, combined with extensive experience gained within the newspaper and magazine distribution industry, experience which is critical for the long term development and execution of the Group’s strategic plans.
Jonathan joined WH Smith News in 1994. He rose through the organisation in a variety of sales and marketing managerial roles before being promoted to the executive management team in 2001. In April 2014, Jonathan became Managing Director of the Connect News & Media division and subsequently Chief Operating Officer in September 2017, a position which spanned both the Tuffnells and Smiths News businesses. With effect from 1 October 2018, following a decision to re-establish business unit leadership, Jonathan assumed the role of Chief Executive Officer of Smiths News, including responsibility for DMD and on 5 November 2019 became Interim Chief Executive Officer of Connect Group PLC. On 16 June 2020, Jonathan was confirmed as Chief Executive Officer of Connect Group PLC on a permanent basis.
Tony Grace Chief Financial Officer
Tony Grace joined the Board on 5 November 2018.
Tony brings extensive, recent and relevant finance and business transformation experience to the Group. These skills are essential in ensuring the Group complies with its accounting, financial reporting, financial and risk management policies and processes, as well as legal and regulatory requirements during its business transformation phase.
Tony was most recently Chief Financial Officer at Yodel Delivery Network and has previously held senior finance and operational roles at Virgin Media and Telewest.
Mark Whiteling Senior Independent Non-Executive Director
Mark Whiteling is the Senior Independent Director and joined the Board on 1 September 2017.
Mark has gained extensive finance and operational experience at a senior level within a number of diverse organisations. He brings recent and relevant financial expertise required to lead the Audit Committee.
Mark was most recently the Chief Financial Officer of Interserve PLC and has previously been the Deputy Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of Premier Farnell plc. He was a non-executive director of Future plc until December 2014 and the Senior Independent Director of Hogg Robinson Group PLC until July 2018, in both cases acting as chair of the respective audit committees as well as serving on their nomination and remuneration committees.
Denise Collis Independent Non-Executive Director
Denise Collis is a non-executive director and joined the Board on 1 December 2015.
Denise holds a wealth of business experience with a particular focus on people and talent management, development, retention and reward. She therefore has the relevant knowledge and experience required to lead the Remuneration Committee, a position she has also held with SThree PLC since September 2016.
Denise was Chief People Officer at Bupa, the global healthcare business, from May 2010 until December 2014. Prior to that, she was the Group HR Director for 3i Group plc and a partner at EY. She has also held senior HR roles at a number of other leading organisations including Standard Chartered Bank and HSBC.
Other current appointments
- SThree PLC, senior independent non-executive director, chair of remuneration committee and member of the audit committee and nomination committee
- British Heart Foundation, chair of remuneration committee and member of nomination committee and Advisory Council
Michael Holt Non-Executive Director
Michael Holt is a non-executive director and joined the Board on 1 October 2018.
Michael possesses highly relevant commercial and operational experience gained within the logistics and distribution industry. Due to his detailed understanding of the sector, its opportunities and challenges, Michael is an important independent voice and sounding board in the development and execution of the Group’s long term strategy.
Michael was, most recently, Chief Operating Officer of FedEx Express, Europe until the end of September 2018 and held a number of other senior executive roles with FedEx Corporation since 2006. Prior to that, Michael held senior executive roles at a number of leading logistics organisations including ANC Group, where he was instrumental in leading the turnaround of the business from a position of loss-making to industry leading margins and strong profit recovery prior to its successful sale to FedEx in 2006.