TaxAssist Accountants completes UK’s first franchisee-assisted buyout


Feb 10, 2017

TaxAssist Accountants, the national accountancy franchise which brought tax advice for small businesses back to the high street, has completed the UK’s first ever franchisee-assisted management buyout.

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, today (Friday, 29th August) completed an MBO for an undisclosed sum, which will see the business 32% owned by franchisees, 53% by the senior management team and 15% by long-standing external business partners.

“We believe this is a first in the UK and internationally,” said Karl Sandall, The TaxAssist Group Ltd Chief Executive. “Franchise operations have been bought by their management teams, but as far as we are aware never in partnership with their franchisees. More than half of our network, including franchisees and their staff, have invested in the business and many more have expressed an interest in buying shares in the future as they are placed on our internal market. We’re delighted at the response to this offer and the even closer working partnership it creates for our business.”

“When I joined TaxAssist in 2000, it was because I knew they were filling a massive gap in terms of supporting small businesses,” says Sandall. “The big firms weren’t interested and many small traditional practices were not offering high levels of client service.

“We broke the mould by providing a welcoming, straight-talking approach, with accountants in shop-front offices on the high street - exactly what small businesses need in their local community. We’ve enjoyed year on year growth, even through the recession, to build a client base of nearly 50,000 small businesses and now we’ve expanded internationally. Our network of franchisees has tremendous faith in the business model and its continued growth and when the opportunity arose to invest in the whole franchise, we had a fantastic response.”

Karl Sandall, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Bankers, spent 26 years in senior management at HSBC before joining TaxAssist in 2000. Joining him in the buyout team are TaxAssist Directors Sarah Robertson (Business Development) and Phil Sullivan (Network Operations and Finance).

Sarah, a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and Institute of Direct Marketing, has over 20 years’ experience in the marketing industry, working with major national and regional brands and running her own successful agency. She joined the TaxAssist Accountants Board in 2004. Phil worked with HSBC Bank for 26 years, achieving Executive Management status, before establishing his own successful business consultancy. He joined the TaxAssist Accountants Board in 2008.

They will be supported on the Board by two Non-Executive Directors, John Chambers, Corporate and Commercial Consultant with Ashton KCJ Solicitors and a representative appointed to represent the franchisees interests. John Westgarth, who founded the business in 1995 and has seen it expand across the UK and the Republic of Ireland, with the successful business model being introduced in Canada this year and set to launch in Australia, New Zealand and the United States in 2015, retires as Chairman and Director.

The UK franchise industry is worth £13.7 billion, employing 561,000 people through 930 franchisor brands and 39,000 franchisee outlets.

Stephen Reed, corporate finance director at Price Bailey, Martin Simons, Senior Commercial Manager at HSBC and Mark Whittaker, Corporate and Commercial Partner, Ashton KCJ Solicitors advised on the deal.