Wheatley Group Chief Executive Martin Armstrong to step down next year

Martin Armstrong, Chief Executive of Wheatley – Scotland’s largest housing, care and property-management group – is to step down next summer.

Martin Armstrong

Mr Armstrong, whose public-sector career across the UK spans a quarter of a century, had intended to step down last year. However, at Wheatley Board’s request, he stayed on to lead the Group’s response to the pandemic.

Wheatley Chair Alastair MacNish described him as “a truly outstanding, hugely-respected figure” in social housing and someone who had demonstrated Registered Social Landlords could match and exceed anything offered by the private sector for customer service. “I can think of few other business leaders in the UK who have led with such distinction, integrity and commitment to excellence,” said Mr MacNish.

Mr Armstrong pointed out Wheatley would have its tenth anniversary this August and said now felt like the right time to announce he would be “passing on the baton”. He added: “It has been an amazing journey. I am proud of the dedication, commitment and passion of the staff, board and committee members - past and present - who have worked hard to make Wheatley such a fantastic force for good in Scotland.”

Under Martin’s leadership, Wheatley has become one of the best-accredited organisations in Europe. The group was awarded Customer Service Excellence – the national standard for excellence in customer service in the public sector – over several years, recording in 2016 one of the best ratings in the UK Government scheme’s history. Glasgow Housing Association (GHA), the Group’s largest subsidiary, was one of only three winners of the Global Business Excellence award in Madrid in 2017 handed out by the European Foundation for Quality Management. The same year, Wheatley was named both Investors in People’s UK’s Platinum Employer and Apprentice Employer of the Year.

“It has been an honour to be Wheatley’s first chief executive,” added Martin. “John Wheatley, a Glasgow MP and Minister for Health in Ramsay MacDonald’s government in the 1920s, campaigned ferociously to improve the lives and futures of ordinary men, women and children. Everyone at Wheatley Group has striven over the past decade to protect and live up to his legacy as the grandfather of social housing.”

Wheatley Board will begin the search for a new chief executive next month. “As is often the case for such an important appointment,” explained Mr MacNish, “this process might take anything up to a year. We expect to have the new person in place by next summer. Martin will stay on for a period to ensure a smooth and successful hand-over.”

Martin Armstrong (56) joined GHA from West Lothian Council as Executive Director of Housing and Customer Services in 2008, having held housing roles in local authorities from Kingston upon Thames to Moray in the north of Scotland. A year earlier he had been instrumental in West Lothian being named UK Council of the Year. He was appointed GHA chief executive in 2009 and went on to oversee the creation of Wheatley Group in 2011.

That year, he became the first business leader to land Quality Scotland’s Scottish Award for Business Excellence with two separate organisations (Wheatley and West Lothian Council). In 2014, he was named Investors in People’s “Leader of the Year” and also Ernst and Young’s Social Enterprise Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2018, he was named the Institute of Directors’ (Scotland) “Director of the Year” in the large business category.

In 2014, Martin led Wheatley’s hugely-successful £300 million debut bond issue on the capital markets. The Group has gone on to raise over £1 billion of private and public investment and has been for the past four years the largest builder of social rented homes in the UK. In 2017, he cemented a deal for Wheatley to become joint owner with Glasgow City Council of its principal repairs and maintenance contractor, City Building (Glasgow), which employs over 2000 people.

Today, Wheatley is the UK’s fourth largest housing group, owning and managing over 90,000 homes in 19 local authority areas across central and southern Scotland, with 2000 employees and an annual turnover of more than £357 million. It provides care services to over 3000 people, is one of Scotland’s largest property managers and in Lowther Homes has the country’s largest private-rent property company.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021