Selling the family business

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Unsurprisingly, the pandemic and the associated uncertainty had a dampening effect on mergers and acquisitions activity in the UK. Since the low watermark of May 2020 in this regard, figures have steadily recovered with the Office for National Statistic recording 153 transactions in March 2021, the highest monthly total since March 2020 (196).

This upward trend has certainly been recognised by the Buckles Company Commercial team in the last 18 months (January 2020 to June 2021). It has proved to be an especially busy period for, during in which we’ve concluded a number of multi-million pound transactions involving the sale of owner-managed and family businesses. Meeting remotely during the height of the pandemic and liaising between various specialisms throughout, we managed to successfully complete transatlantic transactions on time.

“When the decision had been made to sell our family business, we were introduced to Buckles via a Teams meeting due to the Covid restrictions.

We were well supported throughout the due diligence process with explanations in simple terms of what was needed from us and summaries of work still to be completed.

The whole process was completed in a relatively short time for such a transaction and the support and encouragement from Buckles’ team was instrumental in achieving this.” Rita and Peter Bowman of Bowman Stores Ltd, a diversified former farming family business

The process is not just about the detail involved, such as the rigours of due diligence, although this can seem all-consuming at times for everyone concerned.

Buckles understood the stresses and strains of selling a family owned business and guided us through each step of the process.” Peter Guttridge of Guttridge Limited, a 3rd generation manufacturing business

Rather, to a large extent, the ultimate success of a deal relies on establishing a strong rapport with our client. We recognise the blood, sweat and tears that have been poured into developing these businesses over a period of years (sometimes decades and generations). This drives us to immerse ourselves in what makes them, and their owners, tick so that we can offer well-informed advice on business decisions which involve the heart as well as the head.

“One of the key reasons we selected Buckles and particularly Katy [Poole] to represent us was that we wanted someone we could trust implicitly. Someone who would challenge us but solely with the intention of getting the best result for the family. We were working to a very tight timeline on a virtual sale with multiple shareholders so it wasn’t easy, yet Katy helped keep all the parts moving along. Katy was extremely thorough and patient with our many questions. I was constantly amazed at the effort and hours she put in to protect our interests.” Crispin Moger, founder of Marmalade Insurance

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Building those relationships is where we can really add value. Every client is assigned a contact within the team who remains with them for the duration of their matter, thereby providing consistency and reassurance.

“We had an initial meeting with Nigel [Moore] at which he ran through various scenarios and highlighted the main points when selling a company. When we did meet with our future purchaser, we followed the guidance given by Nigel which proved to be invaluable and enabled us to start off on the right foot in the right direction. Throughout the whole sale and due diligence process, the team headed up by Katy Poole, ran the operation like clockwork. We had a very tight deadline and at each stage with Buckles guidance we hit each deadline and successfully completed on time.” Tim Robson, founder of Robsons (of Spalding)

Here are some examples of how effective this approach has been in the past:

  • Advised and acted for the owner managed holding company of the well-known Yours Clothing brand in the acquisition of the niche clothing brand Long Tall Sally.
  • Acting for and advising founding entrepreneur of a software specialist business in the sale to the Access Group.
  • Advising the family sellers of Johnson’s Garden Centre (Boston) lead by Robert David Isaac, to Dobbies.

Your undoubted tenacity in achieving the goal clearly made for as-smooth-a process as we could have asked for, something we were grateful for. Your Company was selected on the recommendation of another of your customers, and well-founded it was for anyone wanting to “make the sale happenRobert David Isaac, founder of Johnsons Garden Centre (Boston)

Buckles’ approach to a wrap-around sector focus provides the breadth across various specialisms, including company commercial, employment and property, all with a focus on family owned and owner managed businesses.

So, if you’re considering a plan to exit from your business, it’s worth acting sooner rather than later to obtain the advice you need, make the necessary preparations and build a rapport with your chosen advisor ready for the rigours of a transaction. Whether that involves tax planning to ensure efficiency or investigating the related legal aspects, having a set of clear objectives will help you to achieve your desired outcome.

For more information, please contact us on 01733 888888.

Associated links:

Dobbies opens at old Johnsons Garden Centre in Boston after revamp (