East Anglia: Ashton KCJ supports TaxAssistant Accountants in ground-breaking franchisee-backed MBO

Mark Whittacker of Ashton KCJ

Mark Whittacker of Ashton KCJ - Credit: Archant

East Anglian law firm Ashton KCJ has worked with TaxAssist Accountants on what is thought to be the UK’s first franchisee-assisted management buy-out.

TaxAssist Accountants, which is based in Norwich, has a UK-wide network of 190 franchisees who specialise in offering tax advice to small businesses.

The management buyout will see the business 53% owned by its senior management team, 32% by its franchisees and 15% by long-standing external business partners.

Supporting the senior management team on the board will be two non-executive directors, one of whom will be John Chambers, corporate and commercial consultant with Ashton KCJ, which has offices in Ipswich, Norwich, Cambridge, Bury St Edmunds, Felxistowe and Thetford.

Mark Whittaker, corporate and commercial partner at Ashton KCJ, said: “It was a pleasure working with the team at TaxAssist on this unique deal. This is the first franchisee-assisted MBO the UK has seen so it was an exciting challenge for the team at Ashton KCJ.

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“We were able to assist the client by drawing on the expertise of lawyers from across our regional offices using a team of experienced lawyers and support staff from a range of disciplines. It was a real team effort and showed the genuine strength in depth of our commercial practice.”

The buy-out, the value of which has now been disclosed, follows a decision by John Westgarth, who founded TaxAssist in 1995, to retire. It was led by chief executive Karl Sandall, supported by directors Sarah Robertson and Phil Sullivan.

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Mr Sandall said: “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.”

He added: “We greatly appreciate the assistance given by the team at Ashton KCJ in helping us complete this distinct and challenging deal.”

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