Posted: Oct 26, 2017
Rachel Murphy

We have strengthened our tax advisory team with the appointment of Nia Thomas as a manager. Nia, 38, who lives in Altrincham, has 13 years’ experience as a personal tax specialist.

Welsh-speaker Nia has returned to the north west after three years at Dixon Wilson in London. She previously worked at Morris & Co in Chester and Ernst & Young in Manchester.

Her career has seen her advise in particular high net worth individuals, including non-UK domiciled clients affected by increasingly complex tax rules in Britain.

Nia said: “I’m delighted to be back in the north west and to join the growing tax team at HURST. The firm has a varied range of clients and I look forward to working with them to advise on their tax matters.”

Nia Thomas of HURST Tax Nia Thomas | Tax Manager

Rachel Murphy, who heads the HURST tax team, said: “Nia is a well-regarded specialist with extensive experience of advising high net worth individuals on all areas of tax. “Her skills add greatly to our existing capabilities in helping our clients manage their personal tax affairs.”

Nia’s arrival follows a strong period of recruitment for HURST, which in recent months has expanded its corporate finance and business services teams with a series of appointments.

The firm has also established a specialist tax compliance team to help companies amid a crackdown by HM Revenue & Customs on tax avoidance and evasion - read more about this by clicking here.

Wondering what your future with HURST might look like? Email or click here to see our current opportunities! 

Posted: Jan 9, 2018
Tim Potter

We head into 2018 with some uncertainty and a degree of optimism. Many of our clients are doing really well and most tell us they are performing at least ‘okay’. The fortunes of businesses largely correlate to how well they are being run, rather than the wider economic environment.

Clients who supply brick-and-mortar retailers are having a tougher time and are concerned about the future, due to a lack of disposable income among consumers, the strength of e-commerce platforms and the tightening of stock levels. E-commerce clients are buoyant and are forecasting continued strong growth.

Our manufacturing clients supporting the oil industry are at last beginning to see their order books strengthening. Later this year we will be visiting leading manufacturer - Bentley to learn both best practice in manufacturing and how this business is faring in the wake of Brexit.  

The most painful issue for many of our clients is the knock-on effect of the weak pound arising from the vote for Brexit. This has put significant pressure on margins and on their cost base. Most have, to a reasonable extent, successfully mitigated the effect of these challenges and their businesses continue to make good profits.

Few clients are looking at significant increases in their payroll costs through pay rises or increased headcount. There is a big focus on increased efficiency and effectiveness. Our business planning and corporate strategy sessions with clients tend to be optimistic around profitable growth and opportunity into 2018.

The banks continue to want to lend money, and borrowing costs remain low, which is a great help – but there tends to be more hoops to jump through to get the funding. Bank of England stress tests on the banking sector demonstrate resilience to most of the ‘disaster scenarios’ they can envisage, which is reassuring.

Talent and skills in the workplace remain in short supply.

All the optimism remains, in many cases, at odds with conversations we have with London-based fund managers and investment bankers, and the business media – who seem to be predicting more of a picture of doom, misery and despair!

I am led to wonder whether, in our optimism, we are living in denial or are we operating in a northern entrepreneurial bubble, currently immune to the headwinds and the pain being apparently experienced elsewhere.

We are fortunate that we are enjoying the benefits of a vibrant global economy which is acting as a ‘pick-me-up’.

The consensus amongst our client base is that Brexit is a 3-4 year phenomenon featuring uncertainty and challenge, but that at the end of the process market forces will create a new norm which will be effective and will work well enough. It is in everyone’s interest for this to be the case.

Tim Potter - Managing Partner at HURST Tim Potter | HURST Managing Partner 

The great majority of our clients trade internationally, either buying or selling or both. 

Most are keen for a swift ‘soft Brexit’ to keep trade and the EU market place as simple and efficient as possible. I have not spoken to any importing or exporting clients who believe that a ‘lion roaring’ hard Brexit will make international trade anything other than much more difficult.

The emerging larger concern from our clients is the political uncertainty arising from a general election and the prospect of a Labour government. The greatest concerns are over the impact on the pound (and companies’ ability to sustain acceptable margins and an enhanced cost base), together with significant increases in taxation – particularly income taxes and capital gains tax including schemes such as Entrepreneurs’ Relief.

As part of our new programme we are holding two events with leading political figures who may be able to give you a valuable insight into how the political environment will affect you and your business.

On the 1st March we are holding a dinner with Lord David Blunkett, former Labour Home Secretary alongside one of our latest new clients Lancashire County Cricket Club. On the 23rd March we are holding a lunch with Graham Brady MP, Chairman of the Conservative 1922 committee.

To express your interest in attending these events please contact my colleague Lucy McCormick who will be managing the Executive Insight programme.

Our clients want certainty, to enable them to make the longer-term decisions around investment and ownership succession. For most, their business is their sole money box, intended one day for sale and retirement funding. 

A new phenomenon emerging in our clients’ strategic thinking is the ‘Corbyn plan’. Clients are asking for views on how to protect their savings and whether now is the time to consider the sale of their business. If you are considering a business sale now or in the next few years I’d strongly recommend you speak with my colleague Nigel Barratt and his team.

Click here to contact the Corporate Finance team. 

At a time of such change and challenges, and in an economy which needs investment and highly-driven entrepreneurs, such a distraction is of no help to anyone.

HURST advises over 400 entrepreneurial clients in north west England whose businesses turn over £5m-£100m. The aggregate sales of HURST clients in the region exceeds £5bn.

To find out more about this exciting new initiative or to register your interest in attending any of the events mentioned, contact Lucy McCormick either by clicking here or call 0161 429 2529

Posted: Jan 9, 2018
Simon Brownbill

At HURST, we love working with entrepreneurs who have a real passion for what they do. Seeing our clients’ businesses grow and prosper fuels our passion, and we are always seeking new ways to help them achieve their goals.

Every year, we host specialist events to inform and entertain our clients and contacts, providing valuable updates on critical issues. Running these regular events for our network is an important way to assist with their continued growth and development, ensuring they are prepared for any changes on the horizon.

With this new year comes a new initiative for HURST. We proudly present “Executive Insight” - This new initiative includes a programme of high calibre events paired with valuable content tailored for business owners and entrepreneurs.

Executive Insight Powered by HURST

Our network can now benefit from events and publications that will drive growth and provoke thought. Each month, one of our expert partners will share their insight on topics ranging from the current political and economic environment and new legislation to compliance and market trends.

The first publication comes from our chief executive, Tim Potter. Tim has been at the helm of HURST for the past 12 years and has successfully grown the firm into one of the North West’s leading accountancy practices.

Tim outlines his predictions for 2018 and discusses how the current political and financial environment is impacting businesses and business owners alike.

We also have a full calendar of exciting events where we will invite guest speakers from political and financial backgrounds.

Here is the overview of what we have planned over the next few months:

  • A Dinner with David Blunkett 
  • A lunch with Graham Brady
  • Insight into Doing Business in Italy
  • Best practice manufacturing site tour: Bentley 
  • Technical Workout 
  • Networking at Chester Races

To find out more about this exciting new initiative or to register your interest in attending any of the above events, contact Lucy McCormick either by clicking here or call 0161 429 2529

Posted: Dec 7, 2017
Nigel Barratt

HURST Corporate Finance has advised the owners of Cheshire-based Terrawise Construction on the company’s sale to private equity-backed Readypower Rail Services. Ben Bradley and Nigel Barratt of HURST Corporate Finance along with Rachel Murphy and Nia Thomas of HURST’s tax team advised James Crossen, Jamie Burrows and Darren Long on the transaction.

Terrawise, which is based at Radway Green, Crewe, specialises in piling, foundations and civil engineering projects in regulated sectors across the UK, with a focus on rail and power. Following the deal, the business has been rebranded as Readypower Terrawise.

It is the first acquisition for Readypower since mid-market private equity firm Primary Capital Partners backed a management buyout of the business in February this year. Readypower, which has its headquarters in Wokingham, Berkshire, provides bespoke plant hire services for rail construction projects nationwide.

Its fleet of more than 200 Road Rail Vehicles play a critical role in helping customers such as Network Rail to repair and maintain the rail infrastructure, as they are deployed on projects from track renewals to overhead line and trackside civil engineering works.

Ben Bradley said: “Readypower is a leading accredited supplier to the regulated rail sector in the UK and its acquisition of Terrawise supports its key strategic objective to expand its service offering.“Terrawise is a tremendously successful business and we are confident the company will benefit from being part of Readypower, backed by an experienced private equity partner.”

Alistair Armstrong, a partner at Primary, said: “It was obvious that there was an excellent strategic and cultural fit between the two businesses from early on in discussions. “Terrawise will gain access to the largest, most modern fleet of specialist operated road rail vehicles in the UK, providing its customers with guaranteed security of RRV supply and superior financial strength to undertake larger projects.“Readypower’s extensive client base, including Network Rail, will be able to benefit from a much broader, complementary offering of specialist rail services.”

Russell Jack, chief executive of Readypower, said: “Like Readypower, Terrawise has been very successful in delivering outstanding customer service. We look forward to working with the management team at Terrawise to ensure that, as an enlarged group, Readypower is well-positioned to meet the needs of the rail industry throughout the next infrastructure investment cycle.”

James Crossen said: “At Terrawise we are proud of our company and the services we offer. However, we recognised that our prime competitors are much larger in size and deployable assets. This deal substantially increases the ability of Terrawise to compete on a level playing field, with the best in-house rail plant fleet in the country.”

Mark Winthorpe and Craig Geraghty of Pannone Corporate worked with HURST in advising the Terrawise shareholders.

 If you are thinking about an MBO, business disposal, or an acquisition please contact us at

Posted: Dec 7, 2017
Paul Brown

The Netherlands is the ‘perfect springboard’ for UK companies looking to Europe and to mitigate the potential negative impact of Brexit, people attending a HURST business summit were told. Among the key attractions are the country’s location, world-class infrastructure, highly-skilled workforce and a favourable and open economy, the audience heard.

Erik Klop and Wilbet Snoei, of accountancy firm Visser & Visser, outlined the benefits at an event organised jointly with Barclays, which offers a range of financial services to companies setting up operations overseas. Like HURST, Visser & Visser is a member of the PrimeGlobal association of independent accounting firms. It has 250 staff across 11 branches in the Netherlands.

The event, held at Barclays’ offices in Spinningfields, Manchester, attracted representatives from businesses involved in activities including manufacturing, lighting, importing, distribution, retail and creative. Wilbet, a manager in the international business team at Visser & Visser, said a growing number of foreign companies are setting up operations in the Netherlands.

It is becoming increasingly recognised as an excellent gateway to mainland Europe as well as a business entity in its own right, he said. The country has an open economy supported by Europe’s largest port at Rotterdam and the award-winning Schipol Airport in Amsterdam.
Shell, Cisco and Huawei are among those with their headquarters in the Netherlands, where 90 per cent of the workforce speak English fluently.

The country also has one of the world’s fastest average broadband speeds and plenty of capacity for storage and distribution at favourable rates. Erik, a tax partner at Visser & Visser, said the Netherlands offers competitive tax rates and incentives, a solid and reliable payments system and strong, sound financial institutions.

The Netherlands’ flexible system of corporate law means it is quick and easy to establish a business there, he added. Paul Brown, HURST’s head of international tax and compliance, said UK company owners should initially weigh up whether to have a permanent presence in the Netherlands or to operate through sales agents.

“If you take a big chunk of your business and transfer it to the Netherlands, the taxman here will see it as being outside the UK tax net and will treat it as if you have sold the business, so there will be tax to pay,” he said.

Experts from the Department for International Trade in Manchester gave advice on how companies can receive help when expanding overseas, including funding for trade shows and market research. The Doing Business in the Netherlands summit was the latest in a series looking at how companies can mitigate the effects of Brexit.

Are you an International Business considering your options post-Brexit? Call us on 0161 477 2474 or email if you'd like any advice on this. 

Posted: Nov 27, 2017
Nigel Barratt

Rising star Lauren Roberts has been promoted to manager at HURST Corporate Finance. Lauren, 26, joined HURST from HSBC in 2013 as a researcher and then became a corporate finance executive.

She advises on the sale of owner-managed businesses and has taken the lead role in a number of deals, including advising the shareholders of Salford-based Utilities Design & Planning on a £3m investment by private equity firm Foresight Group.

Lauren also advised on AIM-listed Grafenia’s summer acquisition of Image Everything, a sign manufacturer and exhibition contractor.

Earlier this year, Lauren was crowned a rising star at the annual ICAEW Manchester Accountancy and Finance Excellence Awards.

Lauren Roberts - Rising Star Lauren Roberts Crowned Rising Star 

Nigel Barratt, head of HURST Corporate Finance, said: “Lauren is establishing a strong reputation in the north west corporate finance market and fully deserves her promotion.

“She has developed into an excellent dealmaker, with drive, ambition and capabilities beyond her years. “Lauren has consistently demonstrated her range of skills by managing deals and building trust and respect with a variety of stakeholders.

“She plays a key part in the ongoing success of our team and we are delighted to reward her achievements with this promotion.”

Wondering what your future with HURST might look like? Email or click here to see our current opportunities! 

Posted: Nov 24, 2017
Simon Brownbill

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) replaces the current Data Protection Act and was designed to harmonise data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower EU citizens data privacy and to reshape the way organisations approach the privacy and use of Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

GDPR represents a huge change (and opportunity) for all businesses. Whilst specifics around rules and implementation remain unclear, three things are certain: -

  • You need to be ready by May 25th 2018 
  • Regardless of Brexit, everybody must comply 
  • Fines are much higher; up to €20m or 4% of global revenue, whichever is greater

Recent studies show that many businesses are not ready for this transition BUT it’s not all doom and gloom….

GDPR will encourage us to build more meaningful relationships with clients and prospects. Gone are the days of spamming, cold calling and irrelevant email communications. Instead, there will be more relevant content, more engaged customers and an increased focus on security and privacy of all our personal data.

So how can we make sure GDPR is a Win-Win for Data Controllers and Data Subjects alike?

ICO has issued a briefing document on the “12 Steps to Take Now” in preparing for GDPR. This is a good basis from which to build your compliance. Here are a couple of other starting points for you to consider:

Clearly define the roles and responsibilities for GDPR compliance.
Whether it’s a working group or designated Data Protection Officer, identify some experts then train and support them.

Scope and document all the data and storage platforms you possess.
Create a data register and record all the internal and external processes, policies and platforms that support it.

Review and define clear policies, workflows and actions.
For example, in the event of an internal breach, external security incident, a complaint or request for access who is responsible for doing what?

Collate and review all your contracts with Third Party suppliers.
Do they include the right to audit? Do they directly reference compliance with GDPR or any other regulatory requirements? How well do they cover GDPR-compliant data processing and data security controls?

Remember, GDPR also applies to employee PII data. It’s just as important to ensure internal and outsourced functions and processes surrounding employee data are managed with the same level of due diligence.

Likewise, departments such as HR and Finance need to be given a seat at the table when planning your GDPR compliance strategy and deployment.

Turning Compliance Pain into Commercial Gain
Regulatory compliance can be seen as an onerous, box-ticking exercise. However, this time and effort can be used wisely to refresh your approach to the acquisition, usage and storage of data and turn it into a competitive advantage.

For all changes that come with GDPR, there is a valid commercial opportunity to improve your data governance, operational efficiency and sales and marketing efforts.

What now?

Address the highest risks to the business if left unchecked.

How long will each action will take to complete? Reviewing and renegotiating contracts can be a lengthy process and auditing and assessing supplier security controls doesn’t happen overnight.

It is better to be over prepared than under prepared!

This is where our client DVV Solutions can help you in the transition to complete GDPR compliance of your Third Party data processors. DVV Solutions has become one of the UK’s leading providers in the design, implementation and management of Third Party Risk Management (TPRM) and IT Security Assurance services.

To see the latest guidelines DVV Solutions have put together on GDPR and Third Party Risk, click here or you can contact them directly on 0161 476 8700

James Thompson

What I do

I provide tax advice to family and owner managed businesses across Manchester and beyond. I'm also a specialist in R&D Tax Credits, saving my clients thousands of pounds.

Where I've been

I started my career at Grant Thornton where I qualified as a CTA. I have also worked at Crowe Clarke Whitehill and Corinthian Tax, before joining HURST in November 2015.

Posted: Nov 22, 2017
Paul Brown

For a man supposedly under pressure, Chancellor Philip Hammond seemed remarkably jovial when delivering his Budget speech. The early part was littered with jokes and barbs aimed at the opposition, and Mr Hammond did not give the impression of a man supposedly in a no-win situation. There was much talk of preparing the country for the new, post-Brexit era, and an image of the government “running towards change” – an interesting image considering all of the talk of a possible cliff-edge Brexit.

In any event, Mr Hammond is putting another £3bn into the pot to prepare for Brexit contingencies – perhaps a drop in the ocean when you consider the sort of sums being spoken about as a possible divorce payment.

In truth, the Chancellor seemed intent on ensuring there were no missteps by keeping the number of substantive announcements to a minimum. Throughout a rather long speech, the sense was that there were a lot of spending commitments but few, if any, revenue-raising measures. The longer the speech went on, the more the expectation rose that here had to be a sting in the tail – but it never came.

This was all the more surprising in the context of significant reductions in growth expectations (which surely must mean lower tax revenues). Many of the revenue- raising measures that were predicted simply did not materialise. Income tax personal allowances rose, there was no cut in higher-rate tax relief for pension contributions and the VAT registration threshold remains unchanged at £85,000.

There were the usual raft of tax anti-avoidance and evasion measures (18 in total according, to the Budget papers) and there were measures to tax multi-national companies from channelling royalties from UK sales to low-tax offshore jurisdictions. Interestingly, online marketplaces such as eBay will, in future, be jointly responsible for VAT along with their sellers. We know HMRC is targeting those who trade through these marketplaces without declaring their income, but this is a new step, effectively looking to force the operators of these sites to police the VAT compliance of sellers.

Also in the small print, there will be consultations on the broadening of measures to tax personal service companies, potentially extending rules that currently only apply (not very effectively) to the private sector. The gig economy will be looked at as part of a review of employment status (much needed, in truth) and the taxation of trusts will be reviewed.

Diesel cars came in for a predictable hit with an increase in vehicle excise duty for all but the most modern of diesels and a one per cent rise in the benefit in kind on diesel cars. At the same time, there will be a significant investment in electric car charging infrastructure and those employees who charge their electric cars at work will not suffer benefit in kind tax on that. Given these cars are supposed to be as cheap as chips to charge, I am not sure how generous that move really is.

Paul Brown - Head of Tax Compliance  Paul Brown - Head of Tax Compliance 

Disappointingly, there were no further reductions in the corporation tax rate, and the indexation allowance which increases the tax cost of assets held by companies in line with inflation will be frozen from January 2018. In one sense, the rule was a bit of an anachronism, but it means another relief for companies will disappear, leaving corporates facing higher taxes on capital gains in the future.

On the positive side of the ledger, there was little to warm the cockles of the hearts of SME owners as we head into winter. Further help on business rates is a plus, and more support for SME housebuilders would seem to be a positive move.

There was much focus on innovation, with £2.3bn being committed to R&D. I was briefly excited when there was mention of increasing the R&D tax credit, but it seems this will apply only to larger companies whose current scheme is much less generous than the scheme for SMEs.

There will also be a position paper to address how an old and creaking tax system deals with the digital economy – an area which has to date been well and truly placed into the “too hard” basket. Radical change is needed to make the global tax system fit for purpose in a digital age, and this is an opportunity for Britain to drive the agenda here.

Even the grand finale was something of less than a surprise. First-time house buyers will see Stamp Duty Land Tax abolished on homes up to £300,000, and on the first £300,000 on properties up to £500,000. While obviously welcome, the sort of savings we are talking about seem hardly likely to bring first-time buyers flooding back into the market. Of course, Scotland now has its own property transfer tax, so presumably these changes will not apply north of the border.

When I woke up this morning, my feeling was that this highlight of a tax person’s year was going to prove to be a bit of a damp squib, and I have to say that feeling has proved right. Given the spending committed seems to be significantly greater than additional tax revenues, the Budget does seem to represent a significant loosening in the government’s fiscal approach in the face of significant reductions in expected growth. Whether this is enough to pull Britain out of the economic slow lane remains to be seen – although it does feel like events away from the Budget may have a much greater effect than any of the measures announced by Mr Hammond today.

For a more detailed view on how the new budget could affect you and your business, join us at our Budget Update sessions held in partnership with Brown Shipley. The first will be in Manchester on 27th November and in Stockport on 28th November