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Mazars is warning East Midlands businesses that they must not allow themselves to be sidetracked by the Budget and Election “sideshows” this year.

The international accountancy firm with offices in Nottingham and Leicester is stressing the need to focus and not be distracted.

Partner Stephen Fuller said: “The Budget and the Election are potential distractions or sideshows for business owners.

“Although they may have a bearing on the economy over the next year, businesses must maintain focus and drive to achieve their objectives – those who wait or allow themselves to be distracted risk losing the inherent capital value within their business.”

He explained that an Election year was different in that any announcements made in the Budget on March 18th are unlikely to be enacted into legislation as there will be insufficient time for the Finance Bill to pass through Parliament before it is dissolved ahead of the election.

“The usual hullabaloo around the Budget will be irrelevant as it will just be electioneering,” he said.

Corporate finance partner Paul Bevan urged businesses not to wait and see whether a “Phantom Budget” or a possible “Hung Parliament” had a negative impact on the economy – or not.

“If the idea of exiting your business is on your mind, start planning now, whatever your timescales.

“Take action now to secure your future rather than leave it to the whims and vagaries of politicians,” he said.

Stephen Fuller then stressed the need to ensure that business owners considering exiting, qualified for Entrepreneur’s Relief.

“If you are nervous about the ten per cent entrepreneur’s relief rate being increased or abolished, there is the potential to protect yourself against post-Budget Capital Gains Tax rises,” he said.

“You should also make sure you plan for your estate and understand Business Property Relief, which could also have a wider impact from an Inheritance Tax perspective.”

He cited Research & Development tax credits and Patent Box as two cash generating tax reliefs that should be reviewed and maximised as they can add significant value and aid cashflow.

And he stressed that if commercial property is involved in any prospective transaction, the Capital Allowances position must be fully reviewed as failure to do so now could have an adverse impact on a transaction

Paul Bevan said:  “Despite comments to the contrary, there is lots of cash – both debt and equity – out there looking for a good home. Interest rates are low, banks are funding and there’s a real buyer appetite out there.

“And don’t limit yourself to looking solely in the UK for a purchaser – look abroad, both east and west,” he said.

“In an Election Year, preceded by the usual March Budget, it is very easy to lose focus, and wait and see what impact is initiated.

“But experience tells us that very little of serious consequence happens between a Budget and General Election, and holding back now merely means you have let six months slip by – while your competitors may be staking their claim,” he pointed out.


The Birmingham office of international accountants Mazars is forecasting a stream of M&A deals despite the uncertainty associated with a General Election.

It follows a very active 2014 with the international accountancy firm’s Central Region team, covering the Birmingham, Nottingham, Leicester and Milton Keynes offices, working on over 30 completed transactions supporting SMEs, international corporates, and listed companies across a range of sectors in the £3 million to £50 million range.

Corporate finance partner Nick Johnson said: “Despite a degree of macro economic uncertainty, and the upcoming election, we are confident that this will be another exciting year for deals.

“We have seen views developing within the business community for some time now – whether it’s selling, acquiring or investing. There has been a sea change in attitudes, with people recognising that there is no time like the present.

“So the outlook is very positive – our pipeline of deals remains strong and continues to build. Our business will grow further in 2015, and we expect to see more of every type of deal including some interesting buyout opportunities.”

Recent disposals completed by the team include the sale of a software business to Sanderson plc, the sale of an online consumer business to private buyers and the sale of a leading provider of marketing fulfilment services to a division of international outsourcing group Bunzl plc.

Fundraising has also been a feature – the team completed the raising of around £8 million for IT services business APSU from Business Growth Fund, a bank funded sale to management, and an equity and bank fundraising. The pipeline is also promising in this area with several buyouts and buy-ins expected in the near future.

2015 kicked off with the £23 million sale of Life Marketing Consultancy Ltd to multi-channel marketing firm Communisis plc. Mazars provided comprehensive corporate finance advice to the shareholders of Life.

Principal vendor David Poole commented: “If there’s one thing the last seven months have taught us, it’s the turbulent waters of M&A need careful and experienced navigation – that’s why we chose to work with Mazars.

“Nick and his team helped with every aspect of the acquisition process, but beyond technical aspects, the extended negotiation and the myriad work streams, it was the human element that Nick managed so well.

“His deep understanding of what both sides are going through, particularly at the sticky key stages, was critical to a successful outcome for us and Communisis.”


International accountancy firm Mazars has helped put together another deal in the Midlands.

Just prior to Christmas it helped the shareholders of a Solihull based software company to complete a sale to a Stock Exchange-quoted purchaser.

Proteus Software Ltd, which is based on Solihull Parkway at Birmingham Business Park, was acquired by Sanderson Group plc, the Coventry-based software and IT services business specialising in multi-channel retail and manufacturing markets in the UK and Ireland.

Now, just days into 2015, Mazars has also advised the shareholders of the specialist shopper marketing agency Life Marketing Consultancy on a sale to multi-channel marketing firm Communisis plc purchase in a deal that could that could potentially yield a value in excess of £20 million.

Nick Johnson, corporate finance partner at the firm’s Birmingham office, acted on both transactions.

He said: “We have a had a great run from the beginning of last summer and it’s fantastic to start 2015 with such a great success story for the shareholders of Life  – we are off and running again.  Despite a degree of macro uncertainty in the UK and overseas I am very confident that this will be another exciting year for deal doing.”

Life Marketing Consultancy will become part of  Leeds based Communisis plc, adding expertise in research and insight-led shopper marketing to its existing experience in customer communication.

The agency, which has 63 staff split between offices in Birmingham and London, focuses on understanding and influencing consumer behaviour whilst they shop and also taking account of retailer strategies and requirements. Life’s clients are leading consumer goods groups especially in the food, drinks, technology and pharmaceutical sectors.

Communisis has staff based across the UK and Europe. The deal will enable it to extend the range of services it offers to its consumer goods clients, deliver more value to its existing leading-brand clients, and expand into higher margin areas.

Andy Blundell, chief executive of Communisis, said: “Life has an excellent reputation in shopper marketing.”

The principal vendors, David Poole and Ian Humphris, join the Group in senior executive roles.

David Poole commented: “If there’s one thing the last seven months have taught us, it’s that the turbulent waters of M&A need careful and experienced navigation, that’s why we chose to work with Mazars.

“Nick and his team helped with every aspect of the process, but beyond the technical aspects, the  negotiations and the various work streams, it was the human element that Nick managed so well.

“His deep understanding of what both sides are going through, particularly at the sticky key stages, was critical to a successful outcome for us and Communisis.”


Corporate finance advisers at international accountancy firm Mazars have helped a Solihull software company to achieve a sale to a Stock Exchange-quoted purchaser.

Proteus Software Ltd, which is based on Solihull Parkway at Birmingham Business Park, has been acquired by Sanderson Group plc, the Coventry-based software and IT services business specialising in multi-channel retail and manufacturing markets in the UK and Ireland.

Sanderson is paying a maximum of £1,900,000 for Proteus, consisting of an initial £1.4 million and a deferred consideration of up to £500,000, depending on certain performance criteria being met in the 12 month period to December 5, 2015.

Nick Johnson and Steve Talbot of Mazars’ corporate finance team advised Proteus during a two year engagement which led to the sale.

Proteus Software Ltd, a long standing Mazars client, provides warehouse management solutions to businesses operating in the area of third party logistics, warehouse management and supply chain distribution.

The company has longstanding relationships with its key customers, including owner managed businesses and major global corporates, working closely with them to deliver business critical solutions.

In the year to September 30, 2014, Proteus achieved turnover of £1.98 million.

Mazars corporate finance partner Nick Johnson said: “Proteus Software was established in 1987 as a business application software provider and has always been at the forefront of developing software applications that control supply chain business processes.

“We identified a natural fit with Sanderson Group plc, and I am pleased that both parties have achieved a highly satisfactory result.”

Sanderson Group chairman Christopher Winn said: “Proteus is a complementary acquisition for Sanderson and the Proteus products will complement the group’s own products, services and customers within its multi-channel retail and manufacturing businesses.”

Proteus Chief Executive David Gray said: “Having made our decision to seek a buyer for the business, we considered a number of market leading advisors and eventually chose Mazars LLP, who after presentations and careful consideration we felt had the skill, experience and understanding of our business, but most importantly we could trust their advice.

“The Mazars team did a tremendous job of guiding us through the process and providing excellent buyer-seller liaison, as well as advice on the finer transaction details, including tax. Their team gave us confidence and made the process as straightforward as possible.”

Mazars advised Proteus with Greg Emms of Emms Gilmore Liberson solicitors providing legal advice. Sanderson were advised by Schofield Sweeney.


Commercial property owners are known to be missing out on significant levels of tax relief because of one common mistake – a failure to review the capital allowances position in respect of their asset.

Commercial property may be used in their trade or as an investment, owned personally, in partnership, or in a company; but in which ever guise, commercial property can provide an invaluable source of tax relief.

That was the message from Gary Devonshire, East Midlands-based senior tax manager for international accountancy firm Mazars.

“There are real benefits to be had by acting now,” he stressed.

UK commercial property owners are entitled to claim tax relief on items fixed within the commercial property (“fixtures”) that qualify for capital allowances. Examples of which are lighting, heating, air-conditioning systems, water systems and toilet and kitchen facilities to name but a few.

Rates of capital allowances on “qualifying assets” range from 8-100 per cent, depending on the nature of the assets and the date they have been acquired. The available tax relief is therefore spread over time in many cases.

So, for example, if a property is purchased for £4 million and £1 million of the cost is attributed to qualifying fixed assets; tax benefits of up to £450,000 could ultimately be obtained if an individual or partnership (including an LLP) owns the property and £200,000 if it is held within a company.

This aspect of tax planning has however become more complicated in the event of a commercial property transaction due to recent Government changes to the capital allowances legislation.

Mr Devonshire said: “As a result of this change in legislation, it has become vitally important to probe the capital allowances history of a property prior to any transaction completing. This may help buyers to maximise the valuable capital allowances they can claim and on the other side of the coin, assist sellers by maximising their sale value.

“The vendor may or may not have made a claim in respect of these assets and the position needs to be clarified. Failures on their part to either reveal any historic claims made or make a claim themselves, can remove the ability for the purchaser to claim this valuable tax relief. This not only affects the tax position of the purchaser but it can also affect the future re-sale value of the property. These are significant issues.

“The effect of this change in legislation is that capital allowances need to be placed at the forefront of any significant commercial property transaction. If you are either thinking of selling, or buying a commercial property of significant value in the near future, then please ensure the capital allowance position is reviewed and advice taken at the earliest stage. Failure to do so can have a detrimental effect.

“Capital allowance claims can still however be made in respect of commercial property that has been owned for significant time periods, providing it can be demonstrated that there has not been a claim made previously by the current or previous owners. This involves a review of all the legal documentation available in respect of historic commercial property acquisitions.

“This exercise is not time barred at the moment and you can go back as far as you wish, but as with any piece of tax planning, HMRC can change the landscape quickly.”

Turning to property refurbishment, Mr Devonshire added: “Many commercial property owners and in some cases tenants; do not review their refurbishment costs carefully. Refurbishments can contain significant levels of assets qualifying for capital allowances and this can benefit the future post tax profit streams significantly.”

And on finance, he noted: “With bank funding still restricted in many cases, capital allowances can provide the lender with additional comfort in terms of the ability of the borrower to service the debt. Capital allowances reduce the profit levels of the business or investor and as such if this information is presented to the bank correctly, they may be willing to soften their lending criteria in marginal cases.”

In broad terms, if you either own or are about to purchase or indeed sell, commercial property of a substantial value, please seek advice. Failure to do so can have a significant tax and commercial effect.


Mazars is pleased to announce that it has strengthened its Receivables Management team with the appointment of Rob Cresswell.

Rob joins the Midlands team of the accountancy and business advisory firm as a Receivables Manager. He will be based out of the Birmingham office from where he is responsible for serving clients in the Central Region to include Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham and Milton Keynes offering assistance with their finance requirements.

Rob brings 17 years’ experience in the financial sector where he demonstrated a particular focus on Invoice Finance. He held a number of client facing positions within large corporate companies and brings knowledge in audit, survey, relationship management and new business. During his time in the banking sector, Rob built up experience in managing high value exposure clients in the SME sector where he helped Invoice Finance facilitate growth for his UK and European customers.

With an important aspect of his new role surrounding new business and recurring work, Rob’s experience will suit and fit with that expected of Mazars.

Adam Simpson, National Director, Receivables Management team at Mazars said: “We are delighted to welcome Rob to the Mazars team. He displays considerable experience and provides the appropriate skillset which can be transferred to the Midlands team to become a valuable addition.”

Simon Chandler, Partner, Business Recovery Group, Birmingham added: “Rob brings vast experience with him which we can leverage across the team here in Birmingham and our local clients. He will be a welcomed addition and I wish him well as he settles into his new role.”


Mazars has netted new client GMS Group run by two former professional footballers.

The international accountants and business advisers have been appointed auditors and advisers with a brief to help the firm grow.

GMS Group offers a range of services that include security services, void property management, utility management, debt recovery and pre-litigation legal services.

GMS has long term relationships with high profile clients such as Jaguar Land Rover, Poundland, Triumph Motorcycles, PWC, Grant Thornton and GVA to name but a few.

The business is headed by CEO Neil Male – his brother Andy is also a director.

Dudley born and bred, both were on the books of Wolverhampton Wanderers until the age of 16, Neil joined Torquay, Andy went to Port Vale, but both had to give up the game soon after following serious knee injuries.

“I was on the scrapheap – where do you go in life when your dream is shattered by the time you are 19,” said Neil. “You have to pick yourself up.”

He joined HSBC Invoice Finance managing thirty SME businesses from a credit management perspective. He “stumbled” into the security industry in June 2000 when he was headhunted by the two original shareholders of GMS whom had incorporated the company in 1997, he quickly rose through the ranks, showing a natural talent for leadership gained from being captain on the football field, and subsequently in 2005 led a restructure and management buyout for him to take over.

Married with two children, Neil recalled: “It was a huge risk at the time but my wife supported and clearly believed in me. My son was only nine months old and I took on a £250,000 personal guarantee with £50,000 equity taken out on my house to invest in GMS.”

As of today GMS Group, based on the Harris Business Park, Stoke Prior, Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, employs 400 staff and has a turnover of £10 million, looking to reach £15 million in 3-5 years.

GMS have appointed Mazars in the East Midlands because of prior connections with partners Bob Johnson and Paul Bevan.

Mr Male said: “We have a strong presence in the West Midlands but we want to strategically grow in the East Midlands and on a national aspect either organically or by acquisition”.

“In terms of Mazars, individuals like Bob and Paul are key when it comes to the entrepreneurial aspect. We needed people who could understand our business and our target audience, and help us grow. We wanted someone more creative than the typical accountancy firm.

“We look to deliver excellence in every aspect of our business and we are recognised for the calibre of our employees, our business and personal ethos, our reliability and our integrity. Mazars is the same.”

Mr Johnson said: “It is an amazing success story and a shining example of how, if for whatever reason as a young lad you don’t quite make it, there is life after football.

“Neil has challenged us to go the extra mile to work with him and help develop his business … and we intend to do just that.

“We are very excited to be on the team.”

Neil and Andy remain big football fans. Andy has stuck with Wolves but Neil’s allegiance is West Bromwich Albion. Both live in the Black Country.


Three of the East Midlands’ top professional firms have played key roles in the project to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One by “planting” over 800,000 ceramic poppies at The Tower of London.

The Blood Swept Lands And Seas of Red exhibition, by Derby-based artist Paul Cummins, involves 888,246 handmade ceramic poppies, one for each British and Colonial death during the conflict. The final poppy will be installed on Armistice Day on November 11.

The poppies, which were available to purchase through the official “Tower of London Remembers” website http://poppies.hrp.org.uk/, have now all been sold, raising millions of pounds for six service charities; The Royal British Legion, Help for Heroes, Cobseo, Combat Stress, Coming Home and SSAFA.

Three professional firms from the East Midlands, accountants Mazars and lawyers Geldards LLP and Howes Percival LLP represented most of the key parties involved in bringing the project together.

Bob Johnson of accountants Mazars in Leicester, is representing Paul Cummins and his company and at Mazars’ London office James Smalley is providing ongoing accountancy services for the Community Interest Company (CIC) “Paul Cummins Ceramics Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red CIC”.

The CIC is the body responsible for selling and despatching the poppies once the installation is closed and ultimately distributing the proceeds of the exhibition to charity.

Chris Rees and his team at Howes Percival LLP in Leicester are the lawyers acting for the CIC and Sarah Hooker, Simon Davers, Michelle Craven-Faulkner and a wider team at Geldards LLP in Derby, are the lawyers representing Paul Cummins and his company.

Bob Johnson, partner in the Leicester office of international accountants and business advisers Mazars said: “I am very proud of the role Mazars have played in successfully bringing together an event of such national and international significance. Seeing it come to fruition has been very exciting.

“Although the project has been two years in the making I have worked closely with Paul Cummins since April and it has been an interesting and rewarding experience to help a renowned and talented local artist bring his concept to reality.

“Mazars will continue to provide accounting support services to the CIC that has been established to collect the income from the sale of the poppies and ensure that as much money as possible is passed on to charity.”

Law firm Geldards LLP provided advice on a number of legal aspects relating to the project.

Sarah Hooker, a Senior Associate in the firm’s Commercial team, explained: “A number of the firm’s specialist legal teams have been working closely with Paul Cummins over the past few months and we’re delighted to have been able to help and support this ambitious and inspiring installation.

“We look forward to continuing to work alongside Paul and as he identifies other exciting opportunities in the future.”

Chris Rees, who heads Howes Percival’s’ Corporate and Commercial Team in Leicester, is the Partner leading the team of specialist lawyers who have provided round-the-clock support to the new CIC.

He commented: “It is such a privilege to be involved in this project, especially as it is for such a good cause and honours the sacrifice made by all the British and Colonial servicemen and women who died throughout the First World War.

“The project also showcases that the East Midlands has a great professional community capable of working on large projects like this one which are recognised on the World stage. Howes Percival, Geldards and Mazars are all based in the East Midlands and have undertaken core advisory roles ensuring the success of this ambitious installation.”

Artist Paul Cummins praised the contribution of the professional team working on the financial and legal aspects of the project.

“Mazars, Geldards and Howes Percival have provided wide-ranging expert support to this project which has culminated in a successful launch supported by the British Royal Family and reported on by media all over the World.

“There’s a lot of behind the scenes work to do on a project of this scale and the teams were on call finalising preparations even in the early hours of the morning of the official launch on the 5th of August. I would like to thank all of the individuals and companies involved for their contribution in helping this remarkable project come together.”

When the exhibition closes each ceramic poppy will be carefully cleaned and packaged before being sent to those who have bought them as touching mementos of this 100 year anniversary. All net proceeds plus a guaranteed 10% from every poppy sold will be shared equally amongst the six service charities. Historic Royal Palaces, the CIC and Paul Cummins Ceramics will not profit from the sale of the poppies.


International accountancy firm Mazars has taken on 14 new staff as it continues to expand in Birmingham.

It pushes office number to nearly 130 and recruitment is on-going. Overall staff numbers have increased by 32 per cent in four years since Mazars moved into the new Birmingham office.

The team has been boosted by experienced professionals Matthew Beaman, part of Mazars Employee Benefits, and Emma Robotham in VAT.

Also arriving is a host of graduate trainees and school leavers.

Appointed senior client manager, Mr Beaman was formerly head of international pensions at Grant Thornton’s Employee Benefit Consultancy.

He specialises in UK and international pensions and pensions governance, focusing on employee benefits strategy and design to drive employee education engagement.

“My passion is providing effective global solutions to common problems faced by financial and human resource directors – to consistently raise the bar and lead the field with innovative strategies for client companies,” he commented.

”Increasing premiums, demanding pensions regulation and deepening employment legislation worldwide mean escalating costs, less control and greater risk facing today’s employer.

”It is about offering previously unconsidered strategies and opportunities to maximise efficiencies and join the dots.”

Ms Robotham has joined from HM Revenue & Customs where she spent 14 years.

She was involved in investigations work including supply chain fraud in areas such as alcohol, mobile phones and labour provisions.

Appointed an assistant manager, she is now seeking solutions for those facing VAT disputes and penalties.

She said: “This is a new challenge and I will be utilising my contacts and experience to the benefit of clients.”

Mazars also welcomes to its Birmingham office new starters in external audit – Zunaid Bakawala, Zahid Khan, Toni Loizou, Louisa Abbey, Thomas Boss, Saira Hussain and Abrar Chowdhury.

The governance, risk and internal controls department welcomes Eleanor Taig.

In tax there are Jonathan Clare and Alexander Rigg.

And the recruits are completed by Mille Watling, outsourcing, and Thomas Robbins, forensic investigation service.

Office managing partner Lee Cartwright said: “This reflects growth across the board … and we still need more people.”

The office has been growing fast with increasing work levels and significant numbers of new clients.


Midlands companies need to maximise their R&D and Patent Box tax entitlements, according to experts at international accountancy firm Mazars.

Mazars, along with patent attorneys Swindell & Pearson Ltd, are inviting businesses to a briefing on these latest tax mitigation and intellectual property protection opportunities.

It takes place on Monday, November 10, at the Radisson Blu Hotel East Midlands Airport.

Entitled “Tax Relief? It’s Patently Obvious”, the breakfast event will be addressed by Gary Devonshire, Senior Tax Manager at Mazars, and Michael Skinner, Chartered Patent and Trade Mark Attorney at Swindell & Pearson.

The phasing in of the new Patent Box regime began last year and becomes fully effective from April 2017, eventually reducing corporation tax on relevant IP profits to 10 per cent.

It runs alongside the existing R&D tax credit system and will increase the number of organisations that benefit from innovation based tax relief’s, including those involved in product design and manufacturing.

The two regimes form a cycle for innovative companies to obtain significant tax benefits from the activities they undertake, from product creation to IP protection.

Mr Devonshire said: “With the Midlands being the manufacturing heartland of the UK, with a reputation for innovation, the R&D and the Patent Box tax relief’s can be hugely beneficial for many companies”.

“Patent Box applies to UK companies that own European patents or hold exclusive licences to use them. If you own protected IP for a small component of a larger non-patented product, your organisation could be eligible for a significant corporation tax reduction based on the sale of the whole product”.

The Patent Box relief applies to all protected IP related income including sales, licence fees, royalties, IP rights transactions, infringement incomes, damages and other compensatory receipts.

“I don’t think companies yet recognise just how broadly the Patent Box tax relief will be applied,” said Mr Devonshire. “This is an enormous opportunity for organisations across the product design, manufacturing and technology industries.

“Companies need to check they have the accounting systems in place to capture the information that will enable them to calculate the relevant profits that fall within the Patent Box”.

He added: “This is an opportunity to network with like-minded businesses while either gaining an insight, or revisiting both R&D tax credits and the Patent Box.

The event runs from 8.30am until 11am. Interested parties should contact Alison Beddow on alison.beddow@mazars.co.uk or 0116 2816500.