Is the Big Beast Back?03-06-2021
It was in the 1970s when the spectre of inflation stalked the UK economy like a big beast in the long grass when the rate of inflation was as high as 25%. But what exactly is inflation? We mostly associate inflation with Latin American countries like Argentina and Nicaragua. Though this view is not wholly wrong, as in simplistic terms if demand for goods outstrips supplies, then prices increase as demonstrated by Alfred Marshall’s supply and demand curve, for those economists among you. In the UK, inflation is measured by the Office for National Statistics (“ONS”) and they report to the Government to look at the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”) when deciding which levers to press in order to control inflation, albeit the control of monetary policy has been given to the Bank of England (“BoE”) who set interest rates. The CPI is a measurement of the weighted average of goods and services which we consume in the UK which then translates into the cost of living, as the CPI measurement includes housing, food, transport and utilities. It was just reported by the ONS last week that in the last 12 months to April 2021 the CPI has increased by 0.7% to 1.5%. This increase was more likely than not helped by the rise in fuel prices from the 12-year low this time last year as a result of the first lockdown when most people will recall that there were no cars on the road. According to the BoE, this rise in inflation should settle down later in the year and then fall back to 2% in 2022 and 2023. However, this is not a settled view of all economists that this overshoot in the inflation target will only be temporary. Though do not get me wrong, some inflation is a good thing, as when you look at economies such as the UK, which are consumer-based, inflation will then help to boost consumer demand. On the other hand, as with most things, too much of something, including inflation, will have negative effects. Inflation will start to reduce the value of money and savings so you are not able to buy as much with your pound as you did in the prior year. When you translate inflation on to a global platform, the issue that becomes more acute as inflationary pressures will determine the value of the countries’ currency. This means that without higher interest rates to counteract inflation, a countries’ currency will start to devalue and imports will become more costly and so the cycle continues. This all then starts to have the negative effect in regards to investment and so productivity which will ultimately affect GDP and in practical terms, companies will use their free cash to plug cash flow strains. So it is a question of waiting and seeing whether or not the inflationary beast is going to bring an end to a decade of low interest rates.
Not our national treasure, but the “British Broadcasting Company”, fondly known as “auntie”. Firstly, there was “Big Bang 2.0”, being Rishi Sunak’s desire to reform financial services, now is it “Britcoin” as a second? I cannot help thinking that, now the shackles of regulation from the EU are starting to fall away, the UK may be entering into a renaissance period as far as financial services are concerned in its transition away into modernity. Britcoin is a good example of this and hence the analogy “BBBC” which I have coined for this article. Britcoin will be a digital version of the Pound and having the same value as the Pound. Cryptocurrencies are simply digital currencies in which transactions are verified and records maintained by a decentralized system. The main difference between Britcoin and other cryptocurrencies is the fact that Britcoin will be regulated by the UK Government and benefit from the guarantee given to it by the Bank of England. But with regulation comes the usual debate of privacy. Authoritarian countries like China have been looking at, and developing, digital currencies for the last five years. China has even started piloting trials of its digital currency, being DCEP. Countries such as Tunisia and Caribbean islands, such as Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis and Saint Lucia, already have their own version of Bitcoin, with Sweden following hard on their heels. Only last week, the largest cryptocurrency exchange business, known as Coinbase, listed on the Nasdaq giving Coinbase a larger market capitalisation than BP or General Motors. So surely it is just a question of time to see which digital currency will be widely accepted to be one of the dominant world digital currencies. If Britcoin goes ahead it will sit alongside cash, but in time I have no doubt that Britcoin will be the electronic currency of choice to be used by UK consumers and businesses alike. With this change to digital currencies, some of the big losers could be the traditional bastions of financial services, being the long-established banks. They will have less capital in the form of deposits because Britcoin will require the user to open an account with the Bank of England. It may have been a good thing that the UK did not get “equivalence” for financial services as part of the Brexit deal. The UK is now going to be forced to think long and hard of ways in which to continue to maintain its place at the top table for global financial services. I am only hoping that the UK becomes a disruptor within the global financial services sector in order to stay ahead of Europe and be regarded as an innovator. But irrespective of whether or not this innovation comes to pass, it is good to hear the chorus of innovation cheering loudly from the side lines, hopefully in time we will hear this chorus being sung even more loudly front and centre.
One Year On26-03-2021
Last week marked 12 months since the first UK lockdown and how life has changed for both business and individuals alike. This is not only a time for reflection but also a time to focus on recovery now over 50% of the UK population has been vaccinated meaning there is a light at the end of the Covid tunnel. But what next? We are surrounded by the very same challenges we faced before we went into lockdown comprising of potential trade wars with China and disputes with Europe now framed in a post Brexit world. Of more concern, we now also have a huge bill to pay as a country for the borrowing which kept the country afloat during the Covid storm. One thing that is certain is that there will be a recovery. As the UK economy is nothing if not resilient but the starting point is very low. I say this with a heavy heart as last year the UK economy contracted by nearly 10% which was the largest contraction seen since the ‘Great Frost’ in 1709 though the world was very different almost 300 years ago and the UK’s position within it was also very different. The UK economy has been kept afloat during the crisis using the usual levers of fiscal stimulus of not increasing the tax burden to pay for increased borrowing and monetary policy of pumping eye watering sums into the UK economy. The growth rates for the UK economy have been forecast to be between 5-6%. If the forecasts turn out to be accurate or even half true, it could mean that the UK could outperform Europe. This would mean that UK plc has to be ready to capture this spurt of economic growth and turn it into something tangible. It is incumbent on all business owners as well as the financial sector to ensure that businesses start to look at new prospects which they are able to exploit. We should not forget that the UK is the 8th biggest manufacturer in the world so we must use that double edged sword of investment to cut through and improve UK productivity by new methods of working which have been learnt through the pandemic. We have to bear in mind that there are also new export opportunities given that a lot of businesses who previously traded with Europe (simply because it was on their doorstep), have to consider potentially onshoring elements of their production in order to preserve efficiencies. Do not forget, a lot of employees harbour visions of starting up their own businesses because they know they can improve on what they have learned from their employer. It is this entrepreneurial spark that needs to be nurtured. I am not harking back to the Thatcher era but I genuinely do believe that investment within businesses and support for employees will reap dividends especially when added to new ways of working to increase productivity.
Employed but not working04-03-2021
Last week the Supreme Court, which is the UK’s highest court, made a unanimous landmark judgment which will have far reaching effects on everyone in the gig economy. This long-awaited decision was 5 years in the making when it ruled that Uber drivers who worked for the ride hailing app, were not self-employed workers but rather employees of Uber. On the face of it, this may not seem to matter very much but the repercussions are immense in that those drivers, if deemed self-employed, would not be entitled to minimum wage, holiday pay, sick pay, and all the trappings that are expected with the protection of employment unlike independent contractors. This concept of employment status was controversial as there are tests which have always been used to determine whether or not a person is employed or self-employed and the gig economy has stretched the orthodox thinking to its limits. However, this case has brought clarity to the concept of employment status within the gig economy. The court used various tests and it found that Uber not only set the fares which affected how much drivers could earn, it also monitored their performance and penalised drivers who rejected too many requests. This meant that the drivers were akin to employees as the only way they could earn more money is by working longer hours. Therefore, it was a question of ‘control’ exerted by Uber over the drivers which was pivotal in the judgment. There will be a large number of similar cases which will follow this precedent not only those which were stayed pending the outcome of this decision. The wider impact of this judgment will be felt by all in the gig economy not just the Uber drivers however it does raise difficult questions which the judgment tried to address including when these workers became employees. Again, a very innocuous question but very difficult to answer. Though the importance of this question cannot be overlooked because it goes to the root of the time that is counted for ‘working time’, ‘minimum wage’ and such like. In the case of Uber, it was when the driver was in the relevant location with the app switched on but what about those people with multiple apps such as Just Eat, Deliveroo and such like? Are these people also employed by multiple employers at the same time? This judgment already impacted Uber’s share price but no doubt it will bounce back if Uber switches to driverless cars. This case followed previous case law where courier drivers also benefitted from employment status but it is not just the UK that has to decide these difficult questions. Similar questions are occurring within the EU at present who no doubt will follow the precedent laid down by the court. The ripples caused by this case are far reaching as now Uber will face liability to pay 20% VAT because it will be deemed to be a transport driver rather than an intermediary.
Equivalent is not always equal27-01-2021
With Brexit over and still in the midst of Covid-19, we have not yet seen the full implications of the free trade deal struck with the EU on the premise of ‘zero tariff and quota’. It goes without saying that the post Brexit custom rules with their reams of new forms and certificates have caused despair due to delays at the border despite reduced traffic due to the national lockdown. But, and it is a big ‘but’ which relates to services, the current EU trade deal favours goods for the simple reason the UK has a deficit in goods with the EU but there is no mention of services even though the UK has a surplus. The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak last week announced that the City should get ready for “Big Bang 2.0”. This reference by the Chancellor is his prelude to his vision of the de-regulation of the City. The Chancellor must be thinking about the original phase of de-regulation put in place by the Thatcher government. If the City can replicate the original Big Bang, London may be able to steal a march on Europe with all of its clunky rules. This will mean a divergence between the City and the EU which will prevent the UK from trading into the EU because it is the EU who decides whether or not the UK rules are equivalent to those in the EU. If I am right then we should have divergence sooner rather than later in order that the UK can find its own path whilst the EU is in a hiatus trying to consolidate its own position on financial services and not yet having the skill set to replicate London’s offering. I appreciate there is always going to be fall out to Paris, Frankfurt etc but in order for the City to remain the dominant force within Europe and the world, there is no time to waste. The UK has to ‘grab the bull by the horns’ within the current reviews on the ‘Independent Fintech Strategic Review’. The original Big Bang made the UK a rival for New York and Big Bang 2.0 needs to ensure that the UK stays the dominant force throughout Europe and the world even if there is divergence rather than through equivalence.
Ctrl Alt Delete16-12-2020
Last week the EU revealed new proposals to regulate big tech firms though the “Digital Services Act” (“DSA”). The DSA uses the guise of curbing dis-information and hate speech to leverage control over tech giants such as Amazon, Facebook, Google and Twitter but will this ever be a success? What is going to be interesting is to see how the new President elect, Joe Biden, will view the EU flexing its muscles over the US tech giants. Donald Trump frequently clashed with these tech giants, but he was a strong advocate that no foreign countries should control these US businesses, it was for the US to do and the US alone. There is no doubt that the DSA is intended as a worthy piece of legislation as according to Ursula von der Leyen (President of the EU Commission), the DSA intends to “rewrite the rule book in the digital rule books”. As without regulation, there is no protection for the consumer. When looking at the tech giants, will the cost of this regulation for example in the case of eBay and Amazon simply be passed on to the individual sellers using their site and so ultimately the consumer rather than the tech giants themselves? If this happens, then the DSA will not be getting to the root of the problem but instead just be another layer of administration that needs to be dealt with. The irradiation of dis-information and hate speech are laudable attributes in any society but this has to be balanced with the freedom of speech and the practicalities of having legislation which can be enforceable at all levels. The DSA aims to increase “platform monitoring” and incorporate “take down responsibilities” whilst ensuring that there is a “restriction on the collection of data” unless the data is made accessible to business users active in the same space. There will be a new concept of “gatekeepers” however gatekeepers, being the tech giants will be prevented from using data received for advertising services. It is also intended that there will be curbs to prevent pre-installation of tech giants installing their own application on hardware devices. An unintended consequence of the DSA could be that when the tech giants try to addresses the dis-information and hate speech, they create regional variations of their offerings in the same way that Google is available in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau but not in mainland China. It is not going to be possible for human intervention to review for example the 500 million tweets that are made every day. This can only be done by changing the algorithms and so instead of having diversity, Europe may find that the EU becomes more homogeneous in respect of big tech. Start-ups may also find it more difficult to raise funding through private equity within a more restrictive e-commerce environment. One thing that can be said for sure is that will the Silicon Valley giants will not easily give up their algorithms. Instead, you are more likely to find that regional variations offered within the EU are more inferior to those within the rest of the world just like not having Google in mainland China and so this could be the gradual eroding of European enterprises rather than a restart through ctrl alt delete.
Many changes over 15 years of success for Hawkins Hatton16-12-2020
Hawkins Hatton Marking 15 Years and Remaining Positive07-12-2020
This is a title I have used before as it is from that famous phrase, “to Jaw Jaw is always better to than to War War.” It is one of those enduring quotes that resonates over generations. The fact that talking and negotiating is better than war. I am sure most people will agree that the consequences of war and the devastation it causes are long lasting. Last week it was announced by Boris Johnson that, “the days of cutting the UK’s defence budget are over.” This may seem contrary to the phrase mentioned above but is definitely a welcome announcement during this year of Covid. At the very least this will be another factor that will help create long term growth in the UK economy. I am saying this because there will be at least £16 billion spent over the next 4 years. Not only will this money be spent on modernising the UK’s military, but there will be investments in new projects such as space and cyber. This transformation has a two-fold effect of not just enhancing the UK’s military capability but more importantly, if done correctly, will lead to more UK innovation. Innovation is an important part of the make-up and fabric of the UK’s DNA as a nation. It is through this cutting edge innovation where there is need to be the best, that you will get the trickled out effect of technology into the private sector and hopefully into everyday goods and services that the consumers will want to buy. A good example of this are the satellites which are used for sat-nav’s. After all, it is the consumer that is the beating heart of the UK economy and this may just be the shot in the arm that the UK economy needs. Space and Cyber are going to be the new grounds that need to be conquered rather than just a physical land grab. This announcement of military spending, with Brexit looming, is welcome on the basis that even if we fall short of the claim this spending will create 40,000 jobs, it has to be good news for a variety of industries such as UK aerospace and ship building. I say all of this because it has been 50 years since it could last be said that the UK were holding their own against the USA and the Soviet Union when it comes to the Space Race, but the sun has long set on those days so if this new start is not going to be squandered it could be a new dawn for the UK in so many different ways.
Making the UK more resilient12-11-2020
Medicom is a global brand based in Canada but with a worldwide footprint stretching into Europe and the UK. Medicom has always been committed to making the world safer and healthier by providing consistent, reliable protection through its brands and superior materials and manufacturing processes. Now with the worldwide pandemic of Covid-19 it has become more important to find partners who you can rely on. Medicom is moving into the UK to assist in the provision of medical equipment on a local basis to help the UK become more resilient in facing this current pandemic and any future pandemics which may come to fruition. As part of the move into the UK Medicom has decided to open the base of operation within Northampton in order to use this as a separate location to try and reach all parts of the UK. Medicom used Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers to assist it when taking the lease of premises (112,750 sq ft) at Brackmills Industrial Estate in Northampton. Hugues Bourgeois, a director of Medicom said “We had a short window in which to finalise the deal though it was important to find a firm that could move at the pace we wanted to and ensuring that they covered off the commercial points in a manner which was not tied up in a legalistic wrapper. We found that firm when we instructed Hawkins Hatton” Colin Rodrigues, Corporate Partner of Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers said “It is always hard to meet the expectations of new clients but at Hawkins Hatton client service is at the forefront of everything we do so to us it is always pleasing when we are able to assist clients with achieving their end goals which is in our legal DNA”
PDQ for PDX12-11-2020
PDX Logistics has for 26 years been synonymous for warehousing, distribution and logistics, as such, it was natural for Möbile to have targeted PDX Logistics as a natural fit for its expansion beyond the West Midlands, in order that Möbile can better serve its customers in the South of England. Möbile, throughout its history which dates back to the late 1970s has continued to expand its business, but it has maintained its ethos of “People.Powered.Logistics”. Matthew Marriott, managing director of Möbile, said “there is no wizardry involved in the formula of People.Powered.Logistics, it is just simply hard work and commitment and ensuring you do the right thing every day”. Möbile was assisted by Arran Jones of MDP Accountants who said “I have worked with both Matthew Marriott and Ian Jolly of Möbile and I have found them to be quite visionary in their sector.” Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers also assisted Möbile by delivering what was a difficult transaction in a clear and concise way and avoiding the obstacles which could have beset the whole deal. Colin Rodrigues of Hawkins Hatton said that “Matthew Marriott and Ian Jolly’s sorcery with their ethos and its combination with PDX will transform Möbile into a national player in its sector in the post-Brexit years.”
A Gripping Deal for Pilers12-11-2020
Maun Industries Ltd has a long history dating back to 1944 and is the UK’s largest manufacturer of pilers and precision hand tools. It has just continued their innovation and secured its future growth for the long term through Tim Scholes. Tim Scholes, whose background has always been business, has continued his entrepreneurial streak by closing a gripping deal for Maun Industries. Tim has 35 years of project-based consulting experience, which he is going to bring to bear within Maun Industries. Tim was attracted by Maun Industries’ combination of specialist products and highly skilled workforce which he wants to help continue to develop by introducing new product ranges and customers through innovation, design and technology. Tim was assisted in this transaction by Pippa Hawkes of BSN Chartered Accountants, who helped Tim structure a deal which worked for all parties. Pippa said that “with Tim’s experience, Maun Industries is certain to grow and increase its global footprint beyond the 200 countries which it already services.” Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers also assisted Tim by ensuring the deal was dealt with in both a timely manner and with a commercial outlook. Corporate partner, Colin Rodrigues said “knowing Tim and his capabilities, he will not only continue to nurture Maun Industries, but he will ensure that its evolution will be world beating to guarantee that Maun Industries is synonymous with quality worldwide.”
Legal Tie Up14-09-2020
Rik Pancholi of Pattersons Commercial Law, based in Ratby just outside Leicester, orchestrated the merger of his firm with Ashteds Solicitors who are also based in Leicester. Pattersons Commercial Law is renowned in the East Midlands for Corporate and Commercial legal expertise within sectors ranging from Accountancy, Financial Services and Retail to E-Commerce and Healthcare businesses to name but a few, Ashteds has maintained a strong reputation in Dispute Resolution and Corporate Insolvency lead by Ashwin Mody. Rik Pancholi (MD of Pattersons Commercial Law) commented that “I followed my instincts when looking to merge with Ashteds as I always wanted to find another firm which would be a perfect fit for Pattersons Commercial Law in order to further compliment the advice we offer to our clients. Ashteds were the perfect marriage partner and together we will be stronger in the depth and breadth of advice we are able to offer going forwards under the Pattersons brand.” Ashwin Mody (MD of Ashteds) said “I have been in the legal sector for over 25 years so you can say that I have seen many things in my career but like the old adage goes, doctors make bad patients so I decided when embarking on this merger, to instruct Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers to deal with the sale as, having made the big decision to merge with Pattersons Commercial Law, I was content to leave the contractual negotiations with them.” Colin Rodrigues (Corporate Partner at Hawkins Hatton) said, “unlike most transactions where from time to time you find problems can escalate into deal-breakers, there was a real desire from both Pattersons Commercial Law and Ashteds to ensure that nothing should be a problem which could not be resolved and looking at the personalities and make up of both firms, I can genuinely say that the merger of these two firms is not a marriage of convenience but instead, the coming together of two reputable legal firms to create a formidable legal force within the East Midlands.”
We started the year coming off a high from a business point of view knowing that the 2019 election gave Boris his majority which would put an end to the uncertainty of Brexit on the basis that the political paralysis was now broken. Then came the talk of the Budget and the pre-tax planning about removal of ER (aka Entrepreneurs Relief) which would hit SME owners hard. The results of this speculation consumed many professionals, both accountants and lawyers alike and took over as the main driver for their clients. This concern did not prove unwarranted as the lifetime allowance for ER was reduced from £10m to £1m. This means that in a business sale in excess of £1m, the proceeds will be taxed at 20% and not 10%. This even made my speculations to the ER changes look too conservative and reminded me of a valuable lesson of always preparing for the unexpected. This is what those clients did in their pre-budget planning where they were able to do so. The detail of the changes to ER has been lost by the press in their budget commentary by the talk of emergency funding for the NHS, the ability to claim sick pay, business interruption loans, business rates being abolished for firms within leisure, hospitality and the retail sector and such like. But all of this is needed as you do not need to be an economist to know that the UK growth in 2020 will be severely curtailed as a result of the Coronavirus and will most likely be the slowest since 2009 as a result of the banking crisis. That brings me back to the point I always focus on which is productivity and how to do more with less. Businesses should learn and heed well the lessons taught from the Coronavirus, as businesses still need to function and deliver goods and services but with a contracting workforce so productivity improvements will have to be delivered if businesses are to survive and come through the shock of Coronavirus. It is at times like this that spark innovation as business has to “think out of the box” to deal with situations which it normally does not need to face maybe because a lot of businesses were within their own comfort zone. The message to businesses is to focus on the “bounce-back” and keep applying those productivity improvements and innovations in order to ensure that this decade can try and emulate some of the “Roaring Twenties” in the last century through the collaboration between the political elite and business to engender growth in order to prevent this decade from being another lost decade.
Marex Spectron completed another acquisition. This time it was for a London-based Tangent Trading Ltd (‘Tangent Trading’). Tangent Trading is a leading scrap metals trading firm which can trade its roots back to 1985. Tangent Trading specialises in non-ferrous scrap metals trading, with a focus on copper and aluminium markets. A long-term member of the London Metal Exchange, Tangent Trading has an international network of customers and suppliers across Asia, Europe and North America. Tangent Trading will continue under the leadership of Darren Leigh and Robert Borland, who join Marex Spectron’s global metals franchise, which boasts one of the most experienced teams and broadest product ranges across base, precious and ferrous metals worldwide. Ian Lowitt, Marex Spectron Chief Executive, commented: “The scrap metal market is a new and exciting direction for our business as we continue to invest in and grow our market-leading metals franchise. This acquisition is part of a strategy focusing on expanding our offerings and developing our business in sustainable commodity sectors. We believe the recycled metal markets are poised for growth as environmental sustainability becomes more important to clients. Given the scale of our global network and balance sheet, there are significant opportunities to further develop the Tangent Trading business – making it an excellent fit for Marex.” Darren Leigh, CEO of Tangent Trading added: “We are excited to join the Marex Spectron family. Not only will we have access to new technologies and services, we will be in a great position to further enhance, strengthen and expand our global offering.” Tangent Trading were assisted by Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers who have worked with Tangent Trading for several years and have detailed knowledge of their background and operating model. Colin Rodrigues, Corporate Partner of HH said “as with any deal, time is the biggest enemy and there was a lot of ground to cover in a very short period of time, yet this was achieved as there was a true meeting of the minds between the parties”. David Price, Director of Price Pearson Accountants commented: “it has been a pleasure to work with Tangent Trading from the outset. Price Pearson have a long history with Tangent Trading and have a special affinity for them. We are delighted to help achieve the shareholders goals of continued growth and expansion through this acquisition by Marex Spectron.
Exit Brexit Growth12-02-2020
As we can finally see an end in sight to Brexit, we must now start to look to the future of the UK economy and try and influence the best way for the UK to deal with the challenges it will face in the post Brexit world. This leads me to an issue which I always express a strong opinion about as it is something I look to improve within my own firm on a continuing basis. In a word it is “productivity”. This has long been the curse of the UK economy as there are inefficiencies in what we do in the UK at work. Will the UK get back to the growth it achieved in the last decade? This was over 2% in real terms which can be translated down into the doubling of living standards every 35 years. But since the turn of the century, the UK growth figures have been well below this. Economists have mused and politicians have pondered over the reasons why productivity has been so low in the UK. Consensus has centred around the fact that the UK has been more focused on ensuring that (since the last financial crisis) those who are able and willing to seek employment gain employment and so the UK is close to full employment. Another conundrum is that, notwithstanding we have almost full employment within the UK, inflation is still at an all time low. In the post-Brexit world with the UK no longer being the magnet it once was for the younger mobile Europeans; the UK may not continue with this full employment so now the UK must concentrate all its efforts on productivity otherwise inevitably firms within the UK will have to raise prices to deal with demand. So, here is hoping that in a bid to achieve growth after Brexit we all play our part in lobbying those in the corridors of power so they do not just stop at HS2 Phase One but also agree to Phase Two. We need to encourage the government to give the green light to the building of the third runway at Heathrow and put more effort into improving the railways, rolling stock and the network of roads. Though in my view, what will make the most difference to productivity is 5G as this has the capability of improving connectivity and so hopefully be the long-awaited boost in the arm to UK plc which can make the real difference to the UK’s productivity. We can all do our part and we should ensure that businesses continue to invest in plant and training for future capability. But as with everything, big or small, it comes at a price. So, if there is an increase in taxes in the fourth coming budget, as some suspect, let’s hope that the extra revenue is put to good use to create this extra capacity for the UK’s post Brexit economy as a spring board for future growth.
No Toil for Tollgate05-02-2020
Tollgate Products Limited recently went through a management buyout under which the existing owners principally led by Edward Sneade (all of whom helped steer Tollgate over the last 45 years) made way for the existing management team to come in and continue to build on Tollgate’s success and experience. The management team led by Donna Nicholas, included Darron Shepherd, Phil Shieber and Angela Thompson, all of whom are long standing employees of Tollgate and have contributed to it being a leader in the UK within the cubicle hardware sector. This status has been achieved through Tollgates’ excellent service and flexibility whilst never compromising on its ability to be responsive and providing unrivalled customer support. Donna Nicholas said “as a team, Darron, Philip, Angela and myself, have always worked together to help deliver the results and customer service that people expect from Tollgate. Therefore, for us, it is the start of a new journey and something which we have long relished and are keen to ensure that we fulfil.” In order to facilitate Tollgate’s MBO, the management team enlisted the help of Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers and HSBC UK Bank Plc. Stuart Smith, an experienced senior commercial manager within HSBC led the transaction on behalf of HSBC and said that “as with any MBO, it is all about the management team and their ability to work together as a team in order to put the needs of the business first. Having looked at Donna and the rest of her MBO team, I am confident in saying that they will continue to make Tollgate a success and ensure that it achieves the recognition that it deserves for its superior products and services.” Colin Rodrigues (Corporate Partner of Hawkins Hatton) said “I have long known that the name and reputation of Tollgate is that of a one-stop-shop for cubicle and architectural hardware. What I did not appreciate is how vast and diverse the business of Tollgate is and having worked with Donna and the rest of the MBO team, I can clearly see that their ambitions for the success of Tollgate will be realised and thereby create an even stronger and better business focused on its strong product range and loyal customer base.”
I recall writing an article last year headed “Jaw Jaw Not War War” based on that famous quote from Winston Churchill when talking about potential international trade wars. It is déjà vu that at the start of 2020, when looking back at the tension in 2019 that existed between the US and China over trade and how this started to affect the world economy as a whole, that we are back here again, but this time between the US and EU, whilst China and the US have started to resolve their trade differences by the “Phase One” deal. The trade war is now a lot closer to home as this month, the EU and the US are meeting in America to discuss a long list of trade issues which are causing tension between the two trading blocks. This has the possibility to become the biggest news story of 2020 if agreement cannot reached quickly as it effects products as esoteric as artisan cheese and single malt whiskey. The tension on the US side has started to build up due to the French digital service tax (“DST”). The DST is a 3% tax on the revenue of digital companies providing advertising services within France, which was given effect by President Macron in July 2019. To avoid a drastic outcome that would more likely effect the EU more than the US, it is hoped that Phil Hogan, the EU Trade Commissioner, will be able to get a reset on EU/US trade relations, but this will only be achieved if they can sort out the big issues that have caused the US to impose these tariffs. These tariffs have come about due to the unease felt by the US over aircraft subsidies that have been given by the Europeans to Airbus and the fact that now Airbus has just overtaken Boeing as the biggest aircraft manufacturer in the world by the number of planes sold. If progress cannot be achieved, as I said, it will be the EU that suffers more because of the very nature of the US economy being more insular and closed, as opposed to the EU which is more driven by export. As with everything over trade, any resolution will be politically driven, especially given the backdrop of the pending election in the US and Trump’s mantra of “America first”, so if anything, the EU may only in reality, achieve a mini deal, a similar deal to the one that Japan has recently done with the US and/or a deal similar to that with China the “Phase One” deal, though only time will tell.
A Towering Success25-11-2019
It was at the beginning of 2019 that HH launched its London venture. This was undertaken in the first instance by an inaugural dinner held in the Palace of Westminster at which some key contacts and clients were invited. Since the launch earlier this year, HH has continued to build on expanding its footprint within London. This has also been demonstrated by its recent event which was held in the Engine Room at Tower Bridge at which over 60 key contacts attended including some famous names such as Bobby Zamora and Mark Noble as well as the “tax timelord” Peter Rayney (Deputy President of the Chartered Institute of Taxation). HH has concentrated on developing its relationships with its London contacts by using the same tried and tested formula of good client service and transparent fees all of which is framed around commercial advice. HH has not taken its focus away from its Midlands roots and has continued to also expand its professional contacts and client base within the Midlands. All of this has meant that HH has been involved in a number of key transactions which have earned their place as being some of the major or prestigious transactions of that kind in that sector within the Midlands region. The three main areas HH continues to focus on are; M&A, Real Estate and Dispute Resolution. HH works well with other firms in respect of employment and private client work. HH has gained recognition for its areas of specialisms from clients, professional contacts, including accountants and financial institutions. HH is going to commemorate its 15-year anniversary next year, it has been a long journey in a short time and it has been a long ladder to climb. Colin Rodrigues, Corporate Partner said: “you have to keep moving forward as time does not standstill and in these ever-changing times, you are only as good as your last deal. In recent years, we have seen many people in firms come and go, as long as you stay true to your principles you are always able to move forward and innovate which is the key to being an effective law firm”. Harminder Sandhu, Managing Partner said: “in 15-years, I have seen so many changes, but change is always good as it keeps everybody on their toes. I still have a passion for law and as long as this continues, I will always strive to ensure that HH continues to achieve the goals and recognition that it deserves.”
Funding for schools19-11-2019
Schools Advisory Service (SAS) is the UK’s largest insurance services provider within the educational sector, insuring over 4,000 schools nationwide. The reason why SAS continues to be the market leader in its industry is because SAS puts relationships with its customers, at the heart of its business model. John Brady, (the MD of SAS) said “I have always ensured that my unique understanding of insurance and specialist support services required by customers within the educational sector has meant that I can ensure that year on year, SAS will continue to meet the needs of our customers and so, remain relevant to them as it is our goal to ensure that we support them.” To this end, John Brady turned to Shawbrook Bank rather than the usual list of high street lenders, as he wanted somebody who understood his business in detail, as he believes that whenever you do business, relationships are the key element. With Shawbrook Bank’s support, SAS will continue its growth so that not only will SAS remain relevant to its customers, but it will also become synonymous whenever anybody talks about insurance within the educational sector. SAS utilised the services of Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers who have, for a number of years, been the cornerstone of legal support within SAS’ business. Colin Rodrigues (Corporate Partner at Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers) said “I agree with John that relationships are a cornerstone of business dealings and it has been a great pleasure for HH to help John in a small part in his journey to ensure that SAS achieves and continues to achieve all of its goals within its business.”
A new extension for AMG18-11-2019
AMG is the oldest, privately owned building contractor in Wolverhampton whose heritage goes back over 120 years. In its long history, AMG has seen many changes within its industry and weathered many storms. Richard Green (the MD of AMG), wants AMG to continue its growth and expansion of the company into the future. Stanford Construction (“Stanford”), was founded and run by Nigel Turner. Stanford has a strong reputation within the construction industry for trusted service and satisfied customers. Richard Green felt that Stanford would be a good partner for AMG as it shares the same core values as AMG. With AMG’s focus being on larger contracts up to £10m, Stanford is a perfect fit to the AMG stable as it will compliment clients of AMG who need services on small works of up to £1m in value. AMG has had a long association with Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers and it was only natural for Richard Green to ask them to continue to provide assistance when he decided to embark on this venture of taking Stanford into the AMG stable. Richard Green said that having good advisors around you makes corporate deals goes easier in the same ways, as having good contractors allows projects to run smoothly.
A Brisko Deal14-10-2019
Taurani Holdings Group (THL) is regarded by everyone in the industry as one of the UK’s most competitive and custom, steel stockholder specialists specialising in wholesale, large quantity and bulk-order steel supply. Its flagship company Brisko Metal resources has already got steel supply capabilities and its dispatch depot in Ipswich provides competitive steel supply for UK and global buyers, clients and customers. In order to continue the growth of the group, it has recently taken over ParkerSteel, whose existing business within the UK means that the group can now supply a wide variety of steel and aluminium products to industries across the south of England. ParkerSteel built its reputation on high quality steel designed to suit the needs of various manufacturing and construction industries. Given the synergies between Brisko and ParkerSteel, it made sense for THL to look to ParkerSteel when it was looking to expand its operation within the UK. Lalit Premchandani, the MD of Brisko, said that “with the combination of the two businesses now working together as one, we will be a formidable presence within the steel industry, able to meet customer’s expectations and requirements for steel processing services with tight deadlines”. THL was assisted by Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers, Colin Rodrigues, corporate partner said that this was a particularly difficult deal, given the size of the transaction, the number of locations through which they operated, the number of employees and the very short window within which we had to complete the deal. But as with everything, provided that a logical approach is taken, difficulties can be overcome and a swift completion was achieved.” Ed Thompson, from Lancaster Haskins LTD, who provided corporate finance advice to THL, said that “every deal has its unique attributes and this one was no exception, however, working as a team, we have managed to achieve the outcome that everybody was looking for.”
A new specialism14-10-2019
Jerroms Accountants and Business Advisers (“Jerroms”) have recently embarked on a new journey which has seen them move from their old office to a new purpose-built building in Lumaneri House, Blythe Valley, Solihull. Jerroms’ journey has been the vision of its four directors; Mark Eden (Managing Director), Lucas Markou, Neill Currie and Richard Horton who have spearheaded Jerroms into becoming one of the go to firms in the Midlands for business and financial solutions which is not based in Birmingham City Centre. Jerroms continue to further their journey, having recently merged with Blue Sky Corporate Finance, headed up by Paul Heaven, to gain their own in-house specialist corporate finance division. This complements their existing service provision and means that Jerroms can now offer a full suite of financial and business advisory services, from accountancy and tax planning to corporate finance and wealth advice. Jerroms has grown significantly over the last few years and during this time they have been aided by sound commercial advice from Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers, who have assisted them in achieving their goals. Mark Eden said “we aim to position Jerroms as a shining light in the world of business advisers within the Midlands and it is good to work with a strong legal team”.
The future is bright, the future in white goods is Axon14-10-2019
Axon has long been regarded as the UK’s leading wholesaler of quality catering equipment since its inception over 30 years ago. Axon’s reputation is legendary given its ability and expertise to source the highest quality and widest range of white goods and catering equipment for businesses far and wide. Axon has always understood that being a trade dealer means that you cannot simply compete on pricing, you need a service. As such, Axon supports its trade customers every step of the way to ensure that the process for them in purchasing goods, is made as smooth as possible and that their orders are efficiently dealt with. Jan Allen, who has been with Axon for many years has now led the management buyout through which she is now going to help continue the smooth running of the business and build on the strength and core values, which Axon has always had. Jan Allen said: “in the same way that Axon is a reliable partner for their trade customers, we needed reliable partners to help assist us through the process and we found that in Chris Steele and Harvey Owen from Nicklin LLP as well as Colin Rodrigues from Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers”. Colin Rodrigues said: “any management buyout is fraught with difficulties and just because the parties know each other well, it does not mean that there are no obstacles to overcome. Sometimes conversations are more difficult with people you know than third parties, but Jan was able to negotiate the roadblocks to help achieve a successful outcome”. Chris Steele and Harvey Owen said that “whenever you are looking to buy, figures play a big part in the transaction, but provided that you have sensible cashflows and protections which are based on a solid foundation, then you tend to find that everything will go according to plan subject to always having an element for contingencies”.
The Title of my New Book06-09-2019
I usually prepare an article a week in advance of having to submit it on the basis that I take my inspiration from the latest world events and how they affect UK PLC. This has been one of those rare occasions when knowing what has happened in the last 14 days and what is yet to happen, I know everything I am commenting on will be over taken by new events. “Do or Die” or “Dead in a Ditch” could be the book titles where the “Big Boss” called Borris is the lead who uses a secret weapon called the “Proroguing Missile”. Who could have predicted the events that have just unfolded in parliament? Could this also be the basis for a real-life soap opera based on political intrigue, with the audience being the EU and the rest of the world? Staying with the book analogy, the main theme is based around rivalries of three families who are vying for control. The Tory family, have “clipped” their critics tantamount to a “mob hit” and cleared out dissent by removing the whip from 21 MPs when they least expected it. Whilst the other fractious family known as Labour are trying to coalesce around their “Don” Corbyn and the smaller SNP family, cannot be ignored as they are using the adage of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” when having had a “sit-down” with the Labour family. The power struggle within the Labour family is still rumbling on beneath the surface meaning that they are not ready to take on the Torys in the “shoot-out” known as the election. Will the Labour family continue to play for time with the SNP under their new alliance or will it break down if something more unexpected happens and we find that the proroguing missile was not the only new weapon in Boris’ arsenal? I will leave it to you to speculate whether these other weapons could be the “Big Boss” stepping down and allowing the Don to seek the extension from the EU knowing that because the Labour family is divided the Don may be “whacked”, not by his family but by the “gangbusters” known as the electorate when the election inevitably happens.
Free Trade Rules Africa13-08-2019
The countries within the African continent are on the verge of entering into a new deal for free trade, which will hopefully be the spur that drives the continent into realising the potential that has always existed within Africa. Since the roll back of the colonial tide in Africa, cohesion between the African countries left behind has been difficult due to rivalries between nations and political divides some of which have never been reconciled. However, in recent times China has focused in on the African continent with the view to gaining access to the rich resources of the African continent. Over 80% of Africa’s exports are shipped overseas, mainly to the European Union (EU), China and the US. This new free trade deal has a very original name being ‘’The African Continental Free Trade Area’’ (“AfCFTA”). With the back drop of Brexit, will this give the UK, with its historic links in the African continent, an opportunity to find many new trading partners sitting within one trading block? The purpose of AfCFTA in their words is to “Accelerate intra-African trade and boost Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.” Nigeria has just joined AfCFTA along with South Africa. This means that the largest nation in Africa and the most developed nation in Africa are now part of AfCFTA, making up 52 out of the 54 nations in Africa, giving access to a population of over 1.25 billion people. It is hoped that in time when AfCFTA has completed the operational phase it will be a formidable force on the basis that it will be the largest free trade area in the world allowing intraregional trade between the African nations to grow from around the existing 15% to maybe replicate the figures between the countries in North America which is currently about 40% and in Western Europe which is about 60%. AfCFTA will obviate the need for VISAs and break down barriers of trade. There will always be barriers to trade though I do appreciate there will be tough negotiations trying to agree and adopt common standards, but if countries like Nigeria can put aside their concerns about being a dumping ground for other low cost African nations, there will be a bright future for AfCFTA.
Never too Big to Care28-06-2019
John Brierley, (MD of Signis Group) spearheaded the formation of the Signis Group back in 2014 by bringing together various businesses including “tri.x” and “Reconstruct”. The purpose of this group was to provide both online procedure manuals as well as providing safeguarding, child protection training, consultancy and independent children's services in one entity. John had a lot of knowledge and experience within the social care sector and he wanted to continue to grow the group. That is why he felt it was a natural step for him to find another partner for the Signis Group. The new partner is Carter Brown which John knew was fast paced and dynamic enough to help continue the growth of the Signis Group. Carter Brown is based in Mansfield and has its roots within children and family work. Carter Brown’s ethos revolves around providing a high-quality service and offering specialised expert witness assessments for family law cases. It has developed and expanded across the UK to become the largest provider of multidisciplinary assessments, widening its specialism to include reporting directly to Local Authorities and within Criminal Law, Asylum and Immigration, Mental Health Tribunals, Panels and Pre-Proceedings. Hawkins Hatton assisted John Brierley and Signis Group in the legal process. Colin Rodrigues said that: “having worked with John for over 10 years on various matters it has become clear to me that it is not just a question of having a vision it is a question of delivering that vision and making it become a reality and John has this unique ability to do both.” John Brierley said that: “having formed the Signis Group and ensured that it was relevant within the sector of social care for children I wanted to ensure that there would be continued success so it seemed natural to pass the baton on to Carter Brown who would help the Signis Group grow and expand to have a national footprint”.
Donald Trump has always been the person who courts controversy regarding himself as a plain speaker and a disruptor of the status quo. His state visit to the UK this week will be like a large pebble being dropped in to a pond that is the current political turmoil surrounding Brexit with repercussions being felt long after his visit. Prior to his visit, Trump ordained Boris Johnson who is regarded as the darling of the conservative party and favourite to be May’s successor ignoring the other 12 candidates standing alongside him. Assuming that Boris becomes the next leader of the conservatives and so Prime Minister will he achieve change given the arithmetic that May faced in Parliament will not change. I understand that negotiations can be difficult and there is merit in tackling the difficult subjects first. However, there are two main elements for the UK leaving the EU and perhaps May should have insisted on discussing the divorce bill and the future relationship in tandem, rather than making one dependent on the other as demanded by the EU. Trump, even on his first visit to the UK said that the UK should not pay the EU £39 billion that was demanded but instead the UK should “walk away” if it does not get what it wants. Parliament is paralysed as it cannot agree on what it wants or does not want other than there is a desire that there must be a deal with the EU. But is Trump right? Should the UK walk away as even last week Sir Peter Marshall (former Assistant Secretary-General of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office) ,said again “by the EU insisting on discussing the financial settlement first and phasing the discussions it has broken the rules within Article 50 which provide that the EU should negotiate and conclude any withdrawal agreement taking account of the future relationship with the Union.” Thus, there should not have been phasing of the discussions. Will the next Prime Minister accept the EU’s redline that the withdrawal deal cannot be reopened or will he/she take Trump’s advice and walk away if discussions are not reopened knowing that there is then only the WTO rules to fall back on. Ultimately, will the next Prime Minister be a disruptor or be someone who maintains the status quo
Currency: How Much is It Worth?05-06-2019
Colin Rodrigues, the Managing Partner of Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers explains the value of currency in his latest article "Currency: how Much is it Worth?" A link to the same can be found here: Made in the Midlands
Corporate M&A Trends and Developments23-05-2019
As contributors to Chambers we have written an article on the latest trends and developments within the M&A Market, the link to the article can be found here: Corporate M&A Trends and Developments
More Space for AE Aerospace09-05-2019
AE Aerospace has just achieved its 5th anniversary since its MBO in January 2014. Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers were retained by AE for the MBO and since then, it has acted in the purchase of another company and various building acquisitions. Peter Bruch, MD of AE Aerospace said that “Hawkins Hatton were recommended to us and we have been delighted that they have been part of our team.” AE Aerospace is a world-class supplier of high-quality precision machined components to the aerospace, marine and defence industries. The company supplies across the Civil Aerospace supply chain to Rolls Royce, UTC / UTAS, Collins Aerospace, Goodrich, Siemens & Moog, with products being used on Airbus, Boeing and Bombardier aircraft. Additionally, in relation to Defence Aerospace, supply extends to BAE Systems Tornado, Lockheed Martin JSF and Eurofighter. Supplies in Defence Naval include on Type 45, Type 26, QE Class Aircraft Carriers and USA Littoral Combat Ship. Since the MBO, the company has grown sales seven fold and more than doubled staff, developing a positive reputation in the market, leading to an increasing orderbook and the need to move to a larger facility in Network Park, Duddeston Mill Road, Birmingham. Colin Rodrigues from HH said that “AE Aerospace has made significant improvements to its business over the past few years and we are very happy to put our name behind them”. Peter Bruch went on to say that: “The new property is four times larger than before, we have increased our manufacturing capacity by 50% and we plan to double our turnover in the next 3 years. We look forward to completing more projects in the future with Hawkins Hatton as our Corporate Lawyers.”
Just what the Doctor Ordered01-03-2019
Manjit Jhooty is the founder of “Jhoots Pharmacy” which is regarded as one of the leading independent pharmaceutical chains in the West Midlands. This achievement has been reflected in the number of awards won by Jhoots in relation to patient service and meeting the needs of the local community. Jhoots has used a simple but effective combination of being able to offer a full range of essential, advanced and enhanced NHS Services using its own experienced staff. In order to continue the expansion of Jhoots Pharmacy, Manjit has taken the bold step to move Jhoots Banking to HSBC UK on the basis that the bank will continue to support Jhoots in its continued development within the West Midlands. Partho Bose, (Senior Business Development Manager with HSBC UK in the Black Country & Shropshire) said that: “HSBC UK has had a long history of supporting businesses within the health sector. Given how strong the Jhoots name is within the pharmacy sector it was a good fit for both the bank and for Jhoots Pharmacy.” Manjit Jhooty (founder director of Jhoots) said that: “The business of Jhoots has always been based on service and patient care so knowing that HSBC UK has similar values, I genuinely feel that together we will make a strong team to continue to make a difference within the health sector.” In order to assist in the rebanking of Jhoots Pharmacy, HSBC UK appointed Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers to assist them in this matter. The rebanking of Jhoots Pharmacy with HSBC UK had to be concertinaed into a tight timeline. Colin Rodrigues (Corporate Partner) said: “When we were initially tasked with undertaking this matter for the bank I was not sure whether or not it would be feasible to achieve the tight timeline, given the number of properties involved and how big the pharmacy chain was. In any event, everyone at HH put together and worked around the clock to ensure that not only were the deadlines met but that the desired outcome for both Manjit and the bank were met.”
Counterplas continues injecting vigour into plastic injection08-10-2018
Counterplas, has long been one of the Midland’s and UK’s leading technical, plastic injection moulder operators, who has over many years, built a strong and enviable reputation in its industry for innovation and excellence. Counterplas has not only continued to expand its product range, but it has bolstered its expansion by acquisition. Paul Isherwood, managing director of Counterplas, has been at its helm enabling the company to stay ahead of its competitor’s through the manufacture and design of new products, using the latest energy efficient machines for plastic injection moulding. Mr Isherwood has now negotiated Counterplas acquisitions of a leading competitor. Paul Isherwood said “I have, for a long time, had respect for Showpla Plastics and how it operates as a specialist plastic injection moulder within the Midlands. For me, it just seemed that the Counterplas wrapper around Showpla Plastics would neatly encapsulate the expansion of Counterplas, in one fell swoop. Thereby creating a showcase plastic moulding business, which would become the benchmark for quality and innovation within the plastic injection moulding industry.” Pete Simpson (Partner of Bache Brown Accountants), who has long been the go-to business advisor for Paul Isherwood and Counterplas said that “I have known and worked with Paul for a long time, and so I have a good understanding of how he conducts his business. Therefore, Paul would only look to expand Counterplas through an acquisition where there is a true synergy. That is why the incorporation of the Showpla business within Counterplas will continue to strengthen what is already a formidable business”. Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers (HH) has acted for Counterplas for a number of years as its corporate counsel, Colin Rodrigues (Partner at HH), said “with the event horizon of Brexit fast approaching, I have always been a strong advocate of investment as a way to improve productivity. Knowing the business of Counterplas and Showpla and the industry in which they operate, investment is the key to productivity and as such, the combination of the two businesses will create a stronger and more highly efficient business.”
The Link to Zinc20-09-2018
The NFM Group is one of the Europe’s major zinc alloy producers and specialises in the manufacturer and distribution of prime grade zinc alloys (“NFM”). NFM has over the years established a reputation as a serious and reliable partner in the buying and trading of non-ferrous metals and related by-products, scrap and residues. NFM stepped into the UK market and purchased Brock Metal who also supply primary zinc alloys across Europe even though they are based in Cannock. The purchase of Brock Metal was from Chelyabinsk Zinc Plant (“CZP”). CZP are the largest producer of zinc and zinc alloys in Russia. Claude Bever, Managing Director of NFM, said “this acquisition demonstrates NFM’s focus on further growing the profitability of its core niche zinc alloys business. Brock Metal’s know-how and experience complements our existing activities. It will allow us to position NFM for new business opportunities and to enhance customer relationships in a global manner.” NFM was assisted by Colin Rodrigues of Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers and David Webb of Edwards Accountants. Hawkins Hatton were responsible for assisting in the negotiation and completion of the transaction in legal terms, whilst Edwards Accountants ensured that all financial matters were properly considered. Colin Rodrigues said “having worked with NFM previously, I know that it prides itself in the pursuance of excellence which is its USP. Thus, in a constantly changing world with Brexit the more flexibility a business can have will simply translate to the fact that it can more easily adapt to this change in conditions in order to meet the needs of the market.”
Rob Thorpe, who has vast experience of plastic extrusions and is a founder of a successful plastics business known as Cooga based in Telford, has now branched out by taking over Central Extrusions, who as its name suggests is based in the heart of the Black Country. Central Extrusions is already in good shape given that it has over 20 years knowledge and expertise in the manufacture of flexible extrusions, and it has a reputation for supplying high quality glazing gaskets Nationwide. That is why Rob focused on Central Extrusions as he felt he could continue to the expansion of the company building on the existing reputation by using his own skill sets. Rob was assisted by Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers who undertook the negotiation and completion of the transaction on his behalf. Hawkins Hatton also assisted HSBC, who assisted with funding the deal. Colin Rodrigues from Hawkins Hatton said “having worked with Rob and seeing his wealth of experience within the plastic sector, I know that he will ensure that the growth of Central Extrusions will continue on the upward trajectory.” Rob Thorpe said “I am privileged to have the opportunity to oversee the next phase of Central Extrusions’ expansion in order to ensure that it becomes the leading national firm within the UK for plastic extrusions.”
What A Catch20-03-2018
Rollins Inc. is a premier global consumer and commercial services company which has an international footprint stretching more than 700 locations from the United States, Canada, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Asia, the Mediterranean, Europe, Africa, Mexico, and Australia. Rollins Inc. specialise in pest control and provides essential pest control services and protection against termite damage, rodents and insects to more than two million customers. Rollins Inc. started its expansion process within the UK by purchasing Safeguard Pest Control based in London and the South East. Within the same week Rollins Inc. also acquired two other businesses namely Ames Group, based in the Midlands, and Kestrel Pest Control, based in Hampshire. Steven Leavitt, the President of Emerging Opportunities of Rollins Inc. spearheaded the purchase of Ames and Kestrel with the assistance Matthew Whiting, who is the Director of Acquisitions. They said that having acquired Safeguard into the Rollins Inc. family, it was a pleasure to continue the expansion by the introduction of Alan Read (director and founder of Ames) and Richard Borlase (director and founder of Kestrel). Alan Read said “I created the Ames Group from scratch and gave it my all and as such, the Rollins Inc. family was a natural choice for me when I decided I wanted to continue to grow my business but with the support of a large organisation.” Richard Borlase said “I found it remarkable that once Rollins Inc. decided to take over my business we completed within days rather than weeks. It is amazing how when you meet an organisation as determined as Rollins Inc. that it can achieve what may seem impossible.” Alan Read (Ames Group) and Richard Borlase (Kestrel) both separately and independently engaged Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers to manage their respective transactions simultaneously. Hawkins Hatton delivered consecutive completions within days of each other. Colin Rodrigues (Corporate Partner at Hawkins Hatton) said “it is not very often that you get consecutive transactions to the same entity but having met Rollins Inc. I can see they will be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years within the UK Pest Control Industry.”
Cee-Norm Have Plugged into Succession13-02-2018
Cee-Norm UK Limited (Cee-Norm) was founded by Mr Tony Potts and his wife Rosemary Potts. Cee-Norm is the sole UK distributor of Bals industrial plugs and sockets, and is one of the UK leaders in this market. Cee-Norm prides itself on supplying valued products of a high standard to its customers. Cee-Norm has recently started a new chapter in its 25 year long journey, as one of its existing shareholder Bals Elektrotechnik GmBH (Bals) has acquired further shares in the company from Mrs Rosemary Potts, becoming the majority shareholder, with a view to taking over all of the shares in the not too distant future. Bals is an independent family business based in Germany which produces industrial plug-in devices and plug-in systems for the global market, as well as setting new technical standards. Bals products are highly valued worldwide, and Cee-Norm is just one of its many distributors around the globe. Mr and Mrs Potts have continued to build a strong and successful relationship with Bals for many years, so it was natural for them to facilitate Bals’ acquisition of the majority shareholding. Tony Potts, Managing Director and shareholder of Ceenorm, said: “having worked in this industry for more years than I care to mention I can say, based on my experience, that this business will continue to grow and I wish Bals every continued success”. Wolfgang Bals, CEO of Bals, said “running a family owned business means a lot to me, and knowing that Tony and Rosemary have trusted my group with the stewardship of their business demonstrates the faith they have in our relationship and together we will continue to make Ceenorm the success story that it is today”. Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers helped to negotiate the transaction with Brian Bates of Harvey Telford & Bates Chartered Accountants, who have been longstanding advisors to Ceenorm, along with HSBC Bank Plc who have helped to support and fund previous acquisitions. Colin Rodrigues, Partner at Hawkins Hatton Solicitors, said “I have worked with Tony and Rosemary for a number of years and I have seen the company go from strength to strength. Knowing that there is going to be continuity for Ceenorm’s customers and suppliers, will not only mean it is business as usual, but their trusted business partnership will continue as usual”. Brian Bates, Accountant, said “when dealing with succession issues for clients it is not all about numbers, it is about relationships. When there is a strong business relationship, inevitably things are easier to negotiate”. Jon Forster, Relationship Director at HSBC, said “Ceenorm has been a customer of HSBC for many years and it has been rewarding to know that the bank’s support has helped Tony and Rosemary fulfil their business goals”.
Wolverson X-Ray (“Wolverson”) has been established for 85 years and is the leading independent supplier of innovative imaging equipment and associated healthcare products. Wolverson has always prided itself on providing quality and value to the NHS and private health care consortia through the supply of technically advanced imaging products. In order to help Wolverson continue to keep ahead of business demands and remain as the market leader in this sector, the shareholders of Wolverson proceeded with a management buy in (“MBI”). The MBI was led by Andrew Hodgetts along with Graham Haslam, Frank Cousins and Gurpal Matharu, who are now the new directors and shareholders of Wolverson, with their X-Ray specs on they knew the future prospects for the business. Andrew Hodgetts commented that “when you have a business like Wolverson, which has been going as long as 85 years, you do not suddenly become the new business owner, instead you are the custodian of the business for the next generation and as such, it is our duty to help maintain the well-being of Wolverson so it will continue for another 85 years.” Graham Haslam commented “it is not just how long the business has been going, but all about innovation and development and the directors and I are fully committed to continue to help innovate and develop Wolverson for the benefit of all Wolverson customers and employees.” In order to fund the MBI, Wolverson obtained funding from HSBC and were assisted by Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers Limited. Debbie Harper (Area Director, Business Banking at HSBC) said: “Funding for the future is a core part of what we do at HSBC and Paul Dawson worked hard to structure a deal for the MBI team. We look forward to working with Wolverson as the team continues to build the business for future generations.” Colin Rodrigues (Corporate Partner at Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers) stated “as with any corporate transaction, the key to success is to ensure that the instructions from the clients are fully reflected within the legal documentation. A lot of time can be spent arguing over clauses when in reality, the practical and commercial approach soon distils any issues within a contract so they can be agreed between principals.” The directors of Wolverson particularly recognised the input of the outgoing directors, Peter Davies and David Young, stating that “Peter and David have been fantastic role models to us as demonstrated by the growth of the business during competitive times in the healthcare business. We will always be grateful for their achievements and will aim to continue to progress the business to these high standards.”
Drive In Keeps On Rolling Forward10-10-2017
Drive In Autocentres (Drive In) has long been known for MOT testing and tyre servicing within the Black Country. For over 25 years it has operated from its depots in Blackheath and Halesowen. Barclays, a keen supporter of SME Businesses in the region, assisted Drive In by funding its acquisition of the premises in Blackheath. Drive In used Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers to assist it through the legal process and to negotiate all commercial aspects of the acquisition. Trevor Kelleher, Managing Director of Drive In, said ‘Having secured the Blackheath premises it means we will now have an even more secure base to continue expanding and providing a service second to none within MOT testing and tyre servicing within the Black Country’. Chris Perrins, Business Manager at Barclays Bank, said ‘It is always good to see a SME business continue to thrive and with the ever-expanding number of cars on the road, it is nice to know that we have customers who do their best to service the needs of the general public’. Colin Rodrigues, Partner at Hawkins Hatton, said ‘It takes a lot of insight to look forward in any business and continue to grow. In these times of low interest rates, it makes commercial sense to borrow monies to secure commercial property’.
Scaffolding Reaching New Heights19-09-2017
Metal Spraying (UK) Limited (“Metal Spraying”) is the Midlands leading manufacturer and supplier of construction equipment, based in Wolverhampton, and supplies two of the UK’s main scaffolding companies. Metal Spraying has always prided itself on providing unparalleled levels of service enabling it to supply its customers with bespoke products. Metal Spraying has recently acquired Scaffolding & Construction Products Limited (“SCP”) from Alumasc Group plc (“Alumasc”) in order to continue to expand its national foot print. SCP has established itself as a leader in its field as a supplier of non-mechanical construction equipment both in the UK and internationally. This deal created one of the largest construction product suppliers in the UK with a group turnover in excess of £20 million. The deal was funded by HSBC and arranged by Partho Bose, Senior Relationship Manager. HSBC Area Director for Business Banking in the Midlands, Steve Peart, said: ‘HSBC has a £10bn fund to support SMEs in the UK and we are committed to helping British businesses like Metal Spraying take the next step in their business ventures. We look forward to our continued work with Metal Spraying and to seeing the business grow over the coming years.’ Legal support was provided by Hawkins Hatton and Colin Rodrigues (Partner) said: ‘on the face of it, a deal of this kind looks simple, however it is always challenging to ensure that the commercial negotiations fully address the legal risks involved for both parties. I was pleased that we covered both of these bases and still delivered the deal within a very tight timeline for both the bank and Metal Spraying’. Ranjit Dale of Metal Spraying said: ‘This deal will generate additional business and employment opportunities within the Wolverhampton area, which is extremely important to a local company such as ours. This demonstrates why the Midlands is the beating heart of UK manufacturing’.
Casting a New Future01-08-2017
Investacast Limited is one of the UK’s leading suppliers of investment castings with over 50 years’ experience in the sector, covering industries such as aerospace, automotive, marine, communications, military, oil and gas and electronics. Investacast’s approach is one of a holistic service from design, research and development to final production and stock holding. In order to service its clients, Investacast operates from its Ilfracombe-based foundry and has supply chain partnerships throughout Asia, providing ISO9001 accreditation and guaranteeing quality which is second to none. The founding shareholders of Investacast wanted the business to move to its next stage of growth and development, and as such proceeded with a management buy in (‘MBI’) earlier this year. The MBI was led by Alistair Schofield (Managing Director of Expromet Technologies Group Limited). Alistair Schofield said ‘looking at the pedigree of Investacast, this is one of the UK’s top precision casting businesses and it is a great pleasure to become part of the management team to assist in the continued growth of the business at a national and international level’. In order to fund the MBI Expromet approached HSBC, given its background and expertise in the manufacturing sector. Martyn Drayton (International Relationship Manager at HSBC) said: ‘As a global bank and, given Investacast’s global connections, it was only natural for us to assist in funding the transaction, which was achieved through a mixture of debt and structured working capital facilities’. Colin Rodrigues (Corporate Partner at Hawkins Hatton) said ‘when acting for the bank, as we did in this transaction, it is always important to strike the right balance between ensuring the bank is fully protected and meeting the commercial needs of the customer’. Jat Najran (CF Adviser at M&A Business Transactions) said that ‘it was a delight to work with Alistair and the team, to help support and guide them through this exciting chapter. It has been great to be involved in a deal like this, advised and funded by the Midlands corporate finance community, and I look forward to seeing them go from strength to strength’.
MSA Have The Prescription For Success06-06-2017
Over the last five years MSA Global Holdings Limited (‘MSA’) has continued its expansion of pharmacy businesses throughout the West Midlands and Worcestershire. Having only purchased the Droitwich pharmacy in 2015, Manor Park Pharmacy in 2016, MSA started negotiations with the owners of Anichem Limited (‘Anichem’) this year. Anichem owned pharmacies within Nuneaton and Rugby. MSA have built up their revenue to over £40 million with offices in Europe (United Kingdom and Germany), Africa (Uganda and Djibouti) as well as strong sales into the Middle East. The Group has expanded its focus from pharmaceuticals to medical devices, dental consumables and supplies to veterinary practices. The Group projects to reach £60 million revenue by 2020. Shan Hassam, Managing Director at MSA, said that “having purchased many pharmacies over the last few years you would naturally expect the process to become easier, but there are always new challenges, especially in a sector which is facing constant change. That said, with the right team of advisers to support us we achieved the ultimate goal. We’re also excited by the new proposed Health Centre in Rugby and are keen to expand our services there to provide patients with the very best service possible.” Manny Sahota, RMY Clements Limited, said that “having worked as MSA’s accountants for a number of years it is great to see how their business has developed and grown from strength to strength, and I know that with the new acquisition of Anichem MSA’s brand will continue to energise the pharmacy sector”. Colin Rodrigues, Corporate Partner at Hawkins Hatton, said that “with the recent cut backs in the pharmacy sector, consolidation is happening more frequently, but the key is to find good pharmacies with the ability to adapt to the changes that the sector is facing. As such I know Anichem will be the right fit for MSA”.
Just What The Doctor Ordered02-05-2017
Raylane Limited (Raylane) has been an established pharmacy operator for over 25 years, with pharmacies across the West Midlands. Raylane comprised of four pharmacies throughout the Black Country supplying both NHS and private prescriptions. Raylane has continued its expansion by acquiring three community pharmacies in Gloucestershire. Raylane was supported in this transaction by Barclays Bank who helped fund the acquisition. Whilst legal support was provided by Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers. Dinesh Patel, Managing Director of Raylane, said “this transaction, having taken longer than anticipated, completed on an auspicious day for me and now having acquired the new pharmacies Raylane will continue to meet the needs of patients both in the Midlands and further afield”. Mani Patel, Relationship Director at Barclays Bank, said “Barclays specialist team of healthcare advisers have a good understanding of the sector and as such were able to assist Dinesh with all of his needs”. Colin Rodrigues, Partner at Hawkins Hatton, said “Every deal has its own peculiarities, and notwithstanding the primary deal revolved around the acquisition of three pharmacies, there were wider issues which needed to be addressed. In this case, wider issues threatened completion, but with commercial foresight we were able to prescribe the perfect cure to these issues before they became fatal”.
Home to Home18-04-2017
TML Housewares Ltd is a family owned business, and has been a long established customer of Lloyds Bank. TML manufactures plastic storage boxes and housewares which are used as everyday items throughout the country, such as storage boxes, bowls, mop buckets and other associated kitchenware products. Being a successful manufacturer, TML sells into many of the UK’s independents and to PLC’s such as Poundland and Home & Bargains. The next step for TML is to continue expansion of its products and have an ongoing investment programme in plant and machinery. To allow for such expansion, TML took the opportunity to purchase additional commercial premises with the support of Lloyds Bank. This step has also created further employment opportunities within TML. The Directors of TML, Jagtar Narle and Jaspal Johal said “The new premises will enable increased capacity within the business, facilitating an increase in turnover of 10-15%.” Natasha Bhardwaj (Commercial Property Lawyer at Hawkins Hatton) said “Finding a new home for TML would have been difficult, so creating an extension to their existing premises by purchasing neighbouring properties was the perfect solution for TML, much like the products that they sell”. Mark Meakin, Relationship Manager at Lloyds Bank, Manufacturing said: “We’ve been helping businesses to grow and expand for over 250 years and when it is for a client who I have worked with for over 15 years, it makes the process even more rewarding”. “We are committed to supporting small to medium-sized manufacturers like TML and creating long-lasting relationships”.
The Successful Bonding of Two Chemical Businesses04-04-2017
Assured Solutions Limited (Assured) has long since been one of the Midlands’ leading ‘Own Label’ chemical manufacturers, providing a wide range of cleaning products, from domestic and household products to industrial products. As part of its offering Assured provides CLP compliant labelling and packaging, as well as carrying out Research and Development. This R&D is at the core of every product sold by Assured. Indeed, one of the key factors of its success is the rapid research and product development it undertakes for its clients, and its ability to bring new products successfully to market which assists its clients to stay ahead of their competitors. As part of Assured’s growth plan, the company has now merged with one of the Midland Regions leading industrial and commercial cleaning chemicals manufacturer, MSH Chemical Manufacturing Limited (MSH). MSH is based in Dudley, and has been trading successfully for over 30 years and has created a strong name and reputation within the chemical sector. Raj Naik (Director of MSH) said that “from our production facility in the Midlands we are able to service customers and markets across the country. With our own fleet of delivery vehicles and long established relationships with our couriers we are able to provide a safe, reliable and secure shipping service”. It was a natural progression for MSH to merge with a business like Assured, as this complimented and strengthened their offering both nationally and globally. Colin Rodrigues (Corporate Partner at Hawkins Hatton) said that “as with most deals there is always a magic formula, and Raj managed to find this”. Robert Taylor (Relationship Manager for Manufacturing at Lloyds Bank Plc) said that “At Lloyds Bank we are committed to supporting manufacturing businesses, and MSH is no exception. It has always been an ambitious business, focusing on its customers, and driving long-term growth. Underlining our commitment to helping Britain prosper is why we helped fund what is going to be a successful merger for MSH”.
Legionella Awareness within Business06-03-2017
Ames Group, one of the Midlands leading providers of environmental services including pest and bird control, clinical waste collection and washroom hygiene services, has expanded its offering into Legionella Risk Assessments and Water Management services. Based in Birmingham, Ames has always tried to meet the nations need to address environmental matters which may affect businesses from time to time. Given that a growing number of offices are now required to be compliant, an important consideration (other than what temperature the air conditioning is set at!) is whether or not the office, retail unit, School, university and/or factory are compliant with the relevant legislation in respect of legionella. Legionella is not just a risk associated with large cooling towers, in fact it can affect most water cooled air conditioning systems and as such the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) recommend that sources of risk to legionella are identified, prevented where possible or suitably managed, ensuring that accurate records are maintained. Alan Read, Managing Director of Ames, said “legionella is one of those things that people do not necessarily associate with an office or retail environment however, given the extreme heat we have been having in recent years over the summer period, air conditioning has become more prevalent. As such, at Ames, we want to try and meet the needs for business owners to ensure that they are at all times fully compliant with HSE requirements. That is why we have set up this new business of legionella services to ensure that all of the statutory obligations for any business owner are met by Ames”. Alan Read went on to say that “for a number of years Ames has been using Hawkins Hatton Corporate Lawyers for all of its corporate law needs and as such knowing that Hawkins Hatton are there, we have been able to not only continue to focus on the business but find new areas to grow using their expertise to avoid legal pitfalls.” Regulations affect every aspect of business life and as such it is always sensible to ensure businesses check they are fully compliant with all legislation and regulation in order to avoid directors falling foul of their duties which are imposed by statute under the Companies Act 2006. The HSE recommendations in respect of legionella are just another aspect of what may seem an innocuous issue turning out to be a much wider problem.