The UK’s first ever franchisee-assisted management buyout (FAMBO) could set a new blueprint for future industry partnerships, according to a sector specialist.
John Chambers, newly-appointed Non-Executive Director of TaxAssist Accountants, the national accountancy franchise which brought tax advice for small businesses back to the high street, said the business - which is now 32% owned by franchisees, 53% by the senior management team and 15% by long-standing external business partners – was setting an example that other franchisors were keen to follow.
“I’ve worked with TaxAssist Accountants as their solicitor for more than ten years, so I know first-hand how strong the partnership is between franchisor and franchisee,” said John, a former international business manager and franchise law specialist with more than 26 years’ industry experience.
“One key to the success of the FAMBO was the franchisees’ trust in the skills and fairness of the executive team. It enabled the lawyers to devise a structure that gave the shareholders some influence in the direction of the company without detracting from the directors’ ability to run the company efficiently.”
For the TaxAssist Accountants’ network it was very much business as usual, said John, with prospects for a strong market for internal shares as the franchise continued to grow both in the UK and internationally. A Master Licence is now operating in Canada and another is due to be launched in Australia this year, with the US and New Zealand scheduled for next year.
“There are bound to be challenges and my role as non-executive director, will be to question the Board and advise them on achieving the right balance,” said John. “This will be particularly important in terms of the extensive support services available to the network, which remain the same, whether or not the franchisee is also a shareholder. Investment decisions and expansion plans remain the remit of the senior management team – franchisees that have a stake in the business simply benefit from the resulting growth.”
Karl Sandall, Chief Executive of The TaxAssist Group Ltd will tell the FAMBO story to an audience of franchisors at next year’s BFA Conference at the ICC Birmingham.
The franchisor, which ranks 25th in the UK’s Top 50 Accountants, has a UK-wide network of 190 franchisees and a fee income of more than £30 million, serving 50,000 small businesses across the country.
John Chambers worked for Japanese trading company Mitsui, for Turner and Newall in the Middle East and in sales and contract management in the oil industry, before retraining as a solicitor and working for two leading international law firms. He established his own practice in 1998, which was acquired by Ashton KCJ Solicitors in 2012. A prolific international speaker on franchising law he remains a consultant with Ashton KCJ.