Posted: Oct 17, 2017
Simon Brownbill

All year, we’ve been fundraising for Mustard Tree Manchester – a charity that works with those trapped in homelessness or poverty. We've organised various fundraising events over the past year and the next one lined up is a rough sleep out! 

We’ve had some very generous donations but we still haven’t reached our final target. We want to raise as much as possible for this great cause, so we're going to be braving a night in the cold and sleeping rough.

On Friday 3rd of November 10 of our team members will be trading in their warms beds for sleeping bags and a cold floor. For them, it will just be one night but sadly, this isn’t the case for many in Manchester. In the past year alone, Greater Manchester saw a 30% rise in homelessness.

Mustard Tree is a charity that transforms the lives of these people and our support and your donations mean that they can continue with their great work.

Help us hit our target and click here to donate!

Posted: Sep 15, 2017
James Thompson

The Research & Development tax relief is one of the most generous currently available but unfortunately, many businesses aren’t aware of it or don’t think that they would be eligible. We’re looking to promote awareness of this valuable tax relief to make sure you don’t miss out!

What is R&D tax relief?

It is a tax relief designed to encourage greater R&D expenditure by companies, leading in turn to greater investment in innovation. The relief works by reducing a company’s corporation tax liability by an amount equal to a percentage of the company’s eligible R&D expenditure.

How much is R&D tax relief worth to a company?

Profitable companies can achieve an additional corporation tax saving of 26% of the qualifying R&D expenditure. For example, if a profitable company spends £100,000 on qualifying R&D expenditure it will save £26,000 in corporation tax. This is in addition to the normal corporation tax relief of 19% achieved when the costs are charged to the profit and loss account.

Loss-making companies can recover up to 33.35% of their expenditure on qualifying R&D expenditure as a repayable tax credit – receiving an actual cash repayment from HMRC!

Does my Company qualify for R&D tax relief?

The answer may well be “yes.” R & D credits are available for any company which can demonstrate it is researching and introducing innovative products, or developing procedures or systems which enable them to operate more efficiently and produce higher quality products and/or services. This can be across all industries – you don’t need men in white coats working in laboratories to qualify!

Research shows that the main reasons why R&D claims are not being made are:

  • Companies simply don’t realise that they have carried out qualifying R&D – companies are misinterpreting the definition of R&D for these purposes, and
  • Some companies are not aware that this generous tax incentive exists or what it is worth to them.

Time Limits for Claims

A claim for R&D tax relief must form part of the company’s corporation tax return and must be submitted to HMRC within two years of the end of the accounting period. So a claim for the year ended 30 April 2016 must be made to HMRC by 30 April 2018.

If you'd like more information on R&D Tax Credits or if you want to find out if you're eligible for a claim, contact our HURST Tax on 0161 477 2474 or email

Posted: Sep 14, 2017
Nigel Barratt

Our Corporate Finance team has advised on the latest acquisition by London-based integrated creative agency Once Upon A Time. Corporate Finance Executive Ryan Niblock and Tax Manager James Thompson advised on the acquisition of media planning and buying agency M J Media.

The deal is the second for HURST in the sector this month, following the management buyout of international b2b marketing consultancy BDB, based in Altrincham. 

M J Media is based in central London and specialises in the youth, entertainment and technology sectors. It buys media across all channels, including TV, outdoor, digital, radio, press and cinema. Clients include 2K Games, Fujifilm, Hooch, Merrell, Cat and Bestival.

Once Upon A Time’s services include strategy, advertising, shopper marketing, retail point-of-sale, audio visual, digital, social and experiential. Its clients include Universal Pictures, Sony Music, Pfizer, Warner Bros and Disney. M J Media is the fourth acquisition for Once Upon A Time, which is based in Soho. 

Joe Garton, chief executive of Once Upon A Time, said: “We are delighted that M J Media is joining us as it will enable us to deliver highly targeted and effective creative and media returns to our clients, particularly in the digital space.”

Pictured left to right are: Matt Fuller, Joe Garton. Pictured left to right are: Matt Fuller, Joe Garton.

Matt Fuller, managing director of M J Media, said: “I believe that the future of media involves working side-by-side with creative development, and joining Once Upon A Time will enable us to be the first independent to bring both under one roof.
“We are delighted to be part of shaping and defining a new agency model and be at the forefront of the changing communications landscape.”

Ryan said: “It’s been a pleasure to be involved with Once Upon A Time and M J Media. The companies complement each other extremely well and will offer their clients an exceptional service. “We wish Once Upon A Time all the best for the future.”

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

Posted: Sep 11, 2017
Simon Brownbill

We're very pleased to announce that we have been shortlisted for two accolades at the 2017 British Accountancy Awards! We are in the running for the audit team of the year prize and corporate finance executive Lauren Roberts is finalist for the rising star award. 

Lauren, 26, won a similar accolade earlier this year at the annual ICAEW Manchester Accountancy and Finance Excellence Awards. She joined HURST Corporate Finance in 2013 and advises on the sale of owner-managed businesses. She also co-ordinates many of HURST’s charity fundraising activities.

HURST’s audit team forms part of the firm’s business services division, which is led by partner Mike Jackson. The team has enjoyed a record year, winning dozens of new clients across the North West. Alongside this, it has improved efficiency through technological innovation, including a new client portal.

HURST chief executive Tim Potter said: “The audit team has had a stellar year, and its success has helped other departments to grow by strengthening the firm’s overall client base. “Lauren has already been honoured regionally as a rising star in her field and now her achievements are gaining recognition at a national level.

“To be on the shortlist in two categories at these prestigious awards is testament to the strength of the firm and our people.” The awards ceremony will take place on Friday, October 13 at The London Hilton, Park Lane - wish us luck!

Click here to have a look at our other awards and accreditations. 

Posted: Sep 4, 2017
Ben Bradley

HURST Corporate Finance has advised on the management buyout of leading international B2B marketing consultancy BDB.

Ben Bradley and Ryan Niblock advised BDB managing director Matt Smith and the new executive team on their acquisition of 100 per cent of the company’s share capital from founders Susanne and Henry Dixon.

Joining Matt on the executive team are deputy managing director Catherine Butcher, Jenny Mason and Jon Hallowell.

Founded in 1987 and based in Altrincham, BDB is a specialist marketing communications consultancy which delivers integrated and creative campaigns for global clients across sectors including food and nutrition, healthcare, construction, engineering, energy, coatings and packaging.

Since Matt’s appointment in 2014, BDB has experienced unprecedented growth, with significant new business wins, impressive organic expansion, a brand refresh and the development of a fully-integrated and enhanced international service offering.

Recent client wins include Huntsman Advanced Materials, senseFly, MWheels, Flexitallic, Elsevier and MacDermid Enthone Industrial Solutions, adding to an impressive client roster of major organisations such as Tata Steel, DSM, tna and Johnson Controls.

Matt said: “I’m so proud to be leading BDB during this exciting period of development and growth.

“We have formed a truly formidable team here at BDB, and the deal has been structured to allow future talent the opportunity to share in the ownership.

“It’s not lost on me that, without such a high-performing team, BDB would just be one of many average marcomms agencies, scrambling for market share.

“We recognise, recruit and nurture talent, and we will continue to ensure that the welfare and development of the team sits at the centre of every decision we make.

“Alongside Jon’s vast experience and creative flair, I’m delighted to be joined by Catherine and Jenny – two inspirational women in business – on the executive board.

“We’ve got the right balance of personalities, profiles and skills to ensure we have the complementary experience, cohesive drive and vision to take BDB on to new levels of success and market dominance, both internationally and in domestic markets.

“I would finally like to thank Sue and Henry. Without their bravery, foresight and commitment, BDB wouldn’t exist. I know they share in the excitement of seeing how we continue to evolve and where we take BDB.”

The deal has been supported by HSBC, with Ben Bradley and Ryan Niblock of HURST Corporate Finance and David Easdown of Turner Parkinson acting as financial and legal advisers to the MBO team. Liz Gallagher provided tax advice.

Ben Bradley said: “It has been a pleasure to advise the BDB management team, led by Matt, on the buyout. With a new leadership team, the company is well-positioned to continue its international growth.

“BDB has significant expansion opportunities and an exciting future ahead. We wish Matt and his team all the best as they take the business forward.”

Pictured left to right are: Ryan Niblock, Catherine Butcher, Matt Smith, Jon Hallowell, Jenny Mason and Ben Bradley.

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

Posted: Sep 1, 2017
Nigel Barratt

Our Corporate Finance team has advised AIM-listed Grafenia on its acquisition of Image Everything, a sign manufacturer and exhibition contractor. Founded in 1998 and employing 41 staff, Image provides clients with merchandising, retail graphics, site branding, signage, promotional advertising and exhibition solutions.

Its range of products and services includes pop-ups, banners, fleet vehicle wrapping and stadium branding. The company operates from a 60,000 sq ft facility near the Trafford Centre. Clients include independent businesses and SMEs as well as household names such as Manchester City FC, English Rugby and Center Parcs.

Nigel Barratt and Lauren Roberts of HURST advised print and design firm Grafenia, which is based in Trafford Park, Greater Manchester, on the deal. Grafenia said the acquisition adds scale to the business in a converging graphics market. There is limited overlap and the acquisition brings cross-selling opportunities for the enlarged group, as well as adding manufacturing facilities and capability.

The owners of Image – Neil Cousins, John Fitzgerald and David Brunt – are all staying on with the business. Peter Gunning, chief executive of Grafenia, said the trio have built a great business which is client-centred and does whatever it takes, no matter how tricky, to get the job done.

Neil said joining forces with Grafenia provides the catalyst to reach more customers at a faster pace. 

Nigel Barratt said: “The products supplied by Image complement the services offered by Grafenia and the acquisition makes excellent strategic sense. “We wish Grafenia and Image well in their new partnership.”

Image turned over £5m in the year to May 31, 2016 and unaudited management accounts for 2016/17 show revenues of £5.53m. Grafenia has agreed to pay up to £3m for the business.

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

Posted: Aug 27, 2017
Simon Brownbill

Every year, HURST organises various fundraising activities to support different local charities. This year, we’re fundraising for Mustard Tree - a charity that works with the impoverished and marginalised. Since 1994, Mustard Tree has transformed the lives of people in Greater Manchester who are trapped in poverty or homelessness, by enabling them to gain the skills and self-confidence they need to reach their full potential.

Last year, we scaled three of the country’s highest mountains and completed the 3 peaks challenge in 24 hours. Along with other fundraising activities, we managed to raise over £9,000 for the Seashell Trust which was our chosen charity for 2016. 

This year, we’ve chosen to up the bar and we've set ourselves another heafty target to reach. In May, we hosted our "Bounce For Charity" event where we held a bake sale and a raffle with some great prizes. On 30th June, 15 of our team members also set off on a three day cycle starting in Hull, going through Belgium, Holland, France and back to Belgium. Click on the image below to read more about the "Brakes-it Tour De Europe".

HURST Fundraising for Mustard Tree Manchester

We want to raise as much as possible for this great cause so in addition to the "Bounce For Charity" and the cycle challenge, we're also going to be doing a "rough sleep out" and we'll be hosting our annual Charity Football Tournament.

HURST Charity 5-a-side for Mustard Tree Manchester

We also have a tuck shop in the office and all proceeds will go to the Mustard Tree. Your help and support is vital for us to reach our target this year and any donations are greatly appreciated! 

Please help us support this great cause and donate by clicking here or contact to find out more. 


Posted: Aug 26, 2017
Jon Ward

We pride ourselves on “Being Unlike Any Other Accountant” so we’re always on the lookout for new ways of doing things. Every business venture should be exciting, but the drudgery of most desktop accounting software takes this away. This is why we became a Certified Xero Partner, as their software is described as “online, simple, smart & magical”.

Here are some of the advantages of Xero Accounting Software:

  • As long as you have a device, whether it be PC, MAC, Tablet or smartphone, and internet access, you can connect to your Xero account from anywhere at any time. 
  • Reconciliations are made easy as the import and download of your bank statements are automated.
  • Invoices can be produced in a few simple clicks, so they’re sent out rapidly and they’re customised to your business. 
  • Compared to desktop software, Xero is extremely secure. All data is held by a global company with huge resources in terms of the latest security technology.

These are all legitimate reasons to get excited, but what does it really mean for you as a business owner?

Unlike desktop software programmes, all you need to connect to Xero is a username and password. This means you don’t have to buy several licences to ensure everyone has access. As it runs through your browser, you don’t have to install anything on your PC either. Additionally, because Xero is browser-based, there are no conversion issues or bug fixes or upgrades required, so no more down-time!

Another thing that differentiates Xero from its desktop counterparts is the dashboard, which is the first thing you see after logging in. This is where all of your outgoings and incomings are displayed, meaning you have a clear visibility of your cash flow at all times.

All of this instantly accessible, vital information allows owner-managers to gain more knowledge of their financial situation at any given time. The ease of use of the software also provides more control, leaving you in a position of confidence.

Xero saves you time and money and it allows us accountants to deliver a higher quality of service thanks to the fluid nature of the information. We can quickly transform the figures into valuable business insight and provide guidance on how to instantly improve your performance.

Click here to find out more about Xero Accoutning Software or get in touch for more information - you can call us on 0161 477 2474 or email