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partnershipsOur Team

Nick Payne

Group MD

Nick has been involved in property for over two decades and amongst his many achievements, steered the regeneration of Manchester’s now iconic Deansgate Locks.

A true visionary with a ‘can-do’ attitude and an innate ability to engage influencers and oil the wheels of change, Nick is well placed to aid the strategic development and expansion of Hillcrest Homes and works closely with Michael and his team to identify new opportunities and partnerships across the UK.

Alan Murphy

Group Director

Alan co-founded Nikal in 2003 and his vision has inspired and influenced the pioneering spirit and progressive approach taken by the Nikal Group.

Alan is one of the North West’s most successful entrepreneurs and innovators. His career has seen him launch several successful businesses across a wide range of industries culminating in A M Paper Group, which he sold in two traunches in 1997 and 1999.

Alan’s considerable industry credibility, coupled with a broad network of influential national and international business contacts, helps attract new and exciting opportunities to evolve the Hillcrest brand and high quality offering. Thus ensuring it continues to meet the requirements of discerning purchasers, both today and in the future.

James Payne

Managing Director

A trained architect with over 12 years experience at leading private practices in London and Manchester, James joined the Nikal team in 2007 as Design Director.

His extensive experience in residential, commercial and leisure development provides an in-depth understanding of the design, master planning and procurement process.

As MD of Hillcrest, James is responsible for instructing design, planning and construction partners and progresses a development from feasibility and planning approval through to procurement, delivery and post completion. His special responsibilities include the growth and development of the Hillcrest business including leading it’s expansion into new desirable areas across the UK.

Stewart Chance

Land Director

Before joining Hillcrest, Stewart spent over three decades as a South Manchester based estate agent, working with vendors, buyers, solicitors and surveyors on a daily basis to achieve ‘quick and painless’ property sales and purchases.

He joined Hillcrest in 2011 as Sales and Marketing Manager. His experience in this role, and in an estate agency environment, has provided him with a thorough understanding of what homebuyers are looking for when choosing a new home. He is able to draw on this first hand knowledge when identifying prime sites for future Hillcrest developments.

Simone Milner

Sales Manager

The daughter of property and interior retail entrepreneurs, Simone was ‘born’ into the industry and has a true passion for architecture and design.

At Hillcrest she plays a vital role in the sales and development process, working alongside Stewart to undertake market and audience research for prospective sites, acting as the key contact for customers prior to completion by keeping them updated on a development’s progress and handling bespoke specification requirements, and remaining their first point of contact throughout the first two years of ownership to deliver Hillcrest’s highest standards of customer care.

Steve Robinson

Group Finance Director

Stephen has been with the Nikal Group since 2004 and offers expertise honed over 25 years in the industrial sector spent with companies turning over in excess of £125 million per annum.

Stephen works closely with Hillcrest MD, Michael Kennedy, and Group MD, Nick Payne, to structure deals, establish Joint Ventures and raise development investment to ensure the strategic financial development and expansion of the Hillcrest business.

Mark Hudson

Group Head of Construction

Mark has been involved in construction for over 20 years, and has proven track record in the delivery of some of Greater Manchester’s most high profile and high value construction schemes, including No 1 Deansgate, St George’s Island and, most recently, MediaCityUK.

A qualified QS, he has successfully delivered a diverse range of complex development schemes of various sizes acting in the different roles of client, developer, consultant and contractor. Mark’s considerable experience has afforded him a full and rounded understanding of construction in all its forms, as well as a comprehensive skill set that includes, but is not limited to, procurement, contract management, project programming, compliance, multi-team management and project appraisals.  This knowledge will be fully utilised in his role as Head of Construction for Nikal and Hillcrest, where he will work alongside senior management and appointed agents to deliver the company’s sizeable residential and commercial project portfolio.


Adam Bennet

Facilities & Customer Services Manager

Adam has a wealth of experience in customer service roles including the logistics and hospitality industry. He joined the Nikal Group in 2012 before moving across to Hillcrest in 2016 to help with it’s expanding property portfolio.

Adam works closely with senior directors on planning administration and also handles the procurement of bespoke materials for projects under construction. Once a property is complete, Adam will conduct the handover with the purchaser and is the first point of call for any aftersales enquiries.


Jackie Duffy

Consultant PR & Marketing Manager

Jackie has worked alongside the Hillcrest Homes team for over 14 years, helping raise widespread awareness of the brand and position it as a leading provider of high quality, luxury new build homes.

With over 21 years experience of PR and Marketing for the residential property sector, she has successfully brought the company’s exceptional standards of design, build quality and specification to the attention of property journalists, award committees and, most importantly, customers.