Chris Birkett: Steering Winn Group From Local Roots To National Success

Issue 102

Nestled in the heart of Byker, Newcastle, is the bustling headquarters of Winn Group, a testament to entrepreneurial spirit and community commitment. At its helm stands Chris Birkett, the CEO whose journey from the company's inception to its current stature embodies the essence of perseverance, growth, and unwavering dedication.

Winn Group traces its origins back to 2002 when Jeff Winn founded Winn Solicitors, seizing an opportunity to offer accident management services in the North East legal landscape.

Chris Birkett, with a background entrenched in insurance, joined the firm in 2006. At that time, the company boasted a modest staff of 25, primarily focusing on personal injury law. However, their vision extended beyond regional boundaries. Chris and his team envisioned Winn Solicitors as a national player, not merely confined to local boundaries.

From a practical standpoint, the services offered by Winn Group are straightforward yet invaluable. In the unfortunate event of an accident not of the client’s making, the priority is to swiftly support them. They arrange for a like-for-like replacement vehicle, ensuring minimal disruption to their daily life while their vehicle is off the road.

Additionally, they facilitate the repair of their own vehicle, prioritising their prompt return to normality. Should injuries be sustained, their in-house legal team provides comprehensive support. Whether it’s facilitating vehicle replacements, managing storage services, or providing medicolegal reports and therapy advice, their commitment to practical, client-focused solutions remains unwavering.

With a strategic outlook and Chris’s industry connections, Winn Group rapidly expanded its footprint, transcending from a regional legal firm to a comprehensive insurance business process outsourcing provider. The journey was marked by significant milestones, including the acquisition of new accounts across the UK and a relentless commitment to innovation and service excellence.

Over the years, Winn Group’s operations burgeoned, necessitating not just physical expansion but also diversification. From its Byker headquarters to additional sites in the immediate area – keeping it local and near to public transport routes for its workforce, the company’s presence grew, accommodating a team that swelled from 25 to nearly 700 employees. These expansions weren’t just geographical; they mirrored Winn Group’s evolution into a multifaceted entity comprising legal, insurance, and administrative arms.

Despite its meteoric rise, Winn Group remains deeply rooted in its local community ethos. Through its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, the company champions various causes, from supporting local sports clubs like Washington and Whitley Bay Football Clubs to backing charities like the North East Air Ambulance and the Bradley Lowrey Foundation. Chris Birkett’s commitment to giving back underscores Winn Group’s belief in leveraging success to uplift the communities it serves.

Looking ahead, Chris envisions continued growth and expansion for Winn Group. With private equity investments catalysing its ascent a decade ago, the company now eyes further avenues for investment to fuel its next phase of development. Ventures into new sectors like wills and probate services alongside its core insurance offerings signal a dynamic trajectory, promising sustained relevance and impact in the everevolving legal and insurance landscapes.

Beyond his professional pursuits, Chris is a dad and family man and a passionate supporter of Newcastle United. His affinity for the Northumberland coast, where he spends leisure time with his family and canine companion, underscores his appreciation for life’s simple joys. Despite the demands of leading a workforce of 700, Chris remains deeply committed to fostering a culture of inclusivity and camaraderie within Winn Group, ensuring every voice is heard and valued.

“Managing 700 staff and hopefully expanding to 1000 staff towards the end of this year is a busy but enjoyable task. Our people are everything and I want our team to enjoy working for Winn Group. I want them to feel as though they are all included and that they’ve all got a voice. We’ve a very open management style with all the group directors on site interacting with the staff daily. It’s something I’m very proud of.”

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