Category Archive: Corporate Finance

Share rights

In the eighth of our understanding corporate law podcast series, solicitor Jonathan Tutu discusses ‘share rights’.

Please click on the play button below to listen.

YFM-Backed IT Company makes latest acquisition

DSP-Explorer, a cloud and database technology specialist backed by YFM Equity Partners (YFM), has completed its fifth acquisition.

The company has purchased  provider with offices in Guildford and Newcastle.

DSP-Explorer, which has offices in London, Nottingham and Leeds, previously secured funding and investment from YFM in 2018 and 2021. It has grown revenues from an initial £5m to an expected group out-turn of £30m in 2022.

The latest deal brings together DSP’s core Oracle Database technology and Cloud skillsets, with Claremont’s specialism in Oracle E-Business Suite and Private Cloud Hosting services.

Simon Goodenough, chief executive at DSP Group, said: “DSP and Claremont already have several clients in common, so when the opportunity arose for us to work together as a combined business, I was hugely excited. We share similar cultural values, especially those of responsiveness and customer success, and both want our businesses to be great places to work for our employees.”

Roshan Puri, investment director at YFM, added: “This latest acquisition continues DSP Group’s growth momentum by broadening its Oracle portfolio, further expanding its customer base and strengthening opportunities to increase its presence both in the UK and in international markets.

“We are pleased to continue to support the business as it pursues its ambitious plan to scale through organic and acquisitive growth.”

Mark Vivian, chief executive at Claremont, who joins the board of the DSP Group, said: “I am very excited about the fusion of the Claremont and DSP businesses, combining our applications and technology strengths together with a comprehensive multi-cloud services portfolio. The breadth of our combined service offering, along with our shared delivery excellence ethos, will enable us to deliver an even more compelling proposition to customers.

“I’m looking forward to working with Simon and the team. I think that this corporate union presents a really invigorating opportunity for the Claremont team as we join forces with our new DSP colleagues to help to shape and grow the combined business going forwards.”

Browne Jacobson advised DSP on the transaction.

YFM has offices in Leeds, London, Manchester, Birmingham and Reading.

Christopher Welch, Adrian Dye and Sophie Townes from Sintons alongside UNW acted for Claremont.

iPac secures seven-figure investment with support from Sintons

Gateshead-based food packaging manufacturer iPac has secured a £2.2m investment which will support the scaling of the business and facilitate an increase in manufacturing lines.

Reed Thermoformed Packaging – which trades as iPac Packaging Innovations – secured the investment from the Maven VCTs and the North East Development Capital Fund (NEDCF), supported by the European Regional Development Fund and managed by Maven.

The transaction is split evenly between NEDCF and the Maven VCTs.

iPac, which was founded in 2016, manufactures thermoformed packaging, primarily used in the food and pharmaceutical sectors.

It operates from a modern 28,000 sq ft manufacturing facility in Gateshead and has a growing annual output of more than 300 million units.

The business also has a focus on sustainable, eco-ethical products which create and perpetrate a circular economy for plastic. At least 80 per cent of the plastic used in its processes is recycled and all of its products are 100 per cent recyclable.

The NEDCF first provided funding to iPac in 2019 to help it invest in new equipment, including new thermoform machines. The business has since tripled its revenues to more than £10m.

The new funding will help increase the manufacturing lines from five to 13 within five years, alongside increasing its headcount by more than 80 per cent.

David Nixon, senior investment manager at Maven, said: “We have been impressed by the growth of the business and its performance track record. iPac is led by an experienced team who have grown and exited businesses in this sector, and their latest venture has built up a strong reputation in the industry for product innovation, quality, service and environmental responsibility.

“Through a combination of funds Maven manages we have structured an investment to support iPac through its next growth phase, helping the business to further scale its operations to enable it to capitalise on the positive market conditions.”

Jonny Catto, managing director and co-founder at iPac, said: “We are delighted to welcome Maven back to the business as a key funding partner. Maven’s 2019 funding package was instrumental in driving our growth from £3m to £10m within three years.

“The current funding deal underpins our continuingly ambitious growth plans which will see us invest in additional thermoforming capacity and site improvements allowing us to further support new and existing customers as we continue iPac’s exciting growth journey.”

Maven was advised on the transaction by Weightmans (legals), Cook and Roebuck (financial DD), and iPac was advised by Matt Collen and Jonathan Tutu from Sintons.

*Featured in Insider Media on 20th April 2022

Sintons continues its expansion with the announcement of promotions

Law firm Sintons continues its expansion with the announcement of six promotions across the different areas of its business.

The promotions, involving two new partners, one senior associate and three associates, recognise the talent, commitment and dedication of the individuals concerned in their specialist fields of work.

Corporate lawyer Emma Pern and private client specialist Paul Collingwood have each been promoted to partner.

Both have been instrumental in the growth and development of their respective teams and in overseeing complex matters on behalf of clients from across the UK.

Sintons has also promoted residential conveyancing specialist Suzanne Dixon to senior associate and has named three new associates – private client solicitor Lauren Fraser, dispute resolution lawyer Adam Hutton and Neurotrauma specialist Nicki Waugh.

The two new Sintons’ partners spoke of their delight at their promotion.

“It feels great to be recognised for all my hard work, but I could not have done this without the support of everyone at Sintons, my clients and my contacts. I’m looking forward to this next stage in my career,” said Emma.

Paul said: “Being promoted to partner means a great deal to me, especially in a firm like Sintons. It is a great place to work and to progress within.

“I have been supported throughout my career here and I really look forward to the future and the different challenges that my promotion will bring.”

On becoming a senior associate, Suzanne said: “I’m so pleased and proud. It reflects my hard work and dedication, and the support that I’ve had from my supervisors and colleagues along the way.”

Sintons’ new associates also spoke of their pride at the recognition of their efforts.

“I am delighted to have been promoted to associate in the private client team said Lauren.

“The firm has been incredibly supportive of my professional development, and I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be part of its growth, both regionally and nationally.”

Adam said: “This is a firm that is committed to investing in its employees to allow them to grow and progress in their careers.

“The dispute resolution department has an excellent reputation and I look forward to contributing to its growth and development whilst continuing to work with new and existing clients.”

Nicki added: “It means a lot to receive recognition for the work I do. I thank the firm for the support and encouragement they have given to me in achieving this goal.”

Christopher Welch, managing partner of Sintons, said: “We are lucky to have talented and committed people throughout Sintons. As an Investor in People we believe in nurturing and supporting all our people and encouraging them to achieve their full potential. It is a privilege each year to be able to reward the outstanding efforts we have seen with promotion.

“Emma and Paul have been with Sintons for a number of years and have excelled in their respective fields, becoming trusted advisors to clients from across the country and supporting them in some milestone moments in their lives. I am delighted to welcome them both as partners in the firm.

“Suzanne, Lauren, Adam and Nicki have all shown outstanding dedication to their clients and their roles, playing a key part in their growth and development of their respective teams.

“We wish them all the very best of luck as they continue to progress their careers at Sintons.”

Deal agreed for The Shard and O2 Arena contractor

Fieldway Group is backed by a major investor in Mowgli Street Food.

A Liverpool fire protection specialist, which is backed by a major investor in Mowgli Street Food, has bought a North East company that has worked on The Shard, Battersea Power Station and the O2 Arena.

Fieldway Group has acquired Intumescent Protective Coatings (IPCL) for an undisclosed sum.

The Liverpool-based company was founded in 2006 by CEO Brian Murphy and has been backed since 2018 by SME investor Foresight Group.

IPCL is a provider of specialist fire protection services including structural fire protection and fire stopping.

Headquartered in North Shields, IPCL has around 45 employees and has an annual revenue of more than £3m.

Its managing director and co-founder, Chris Arnott, and his co-directors are joining the enlarged business at completion.

Feildway CEO Brian Murphy said: “There is a near perfect synergy between the two businesses, and I am delighted that Foresight introduced me to Chris and the IPCL team.

“While we are specialists in active fire protection, IPCL is a leader in passive protection and has worked on some of the UK’s most iconic buildings.

“Alongside the strong organic growth we are seeing, we are open to further earnings-enhancing and complementary acquisitions – such as IPCL – as we look to grow to over £20m in revenues over the next two years.”

Foresight director David Turner added: “We are delighted to support Fieldway with this important transaction as it continues to expand in the fire protection market.

“The acquisition of IPCL both strengthens Fieldway’s service offering and opens up the North East and London markets to the wider group.

“Since our investment in 2018, the Fieldway team has nearly doubled from 35 to more than 60, and we expect this number to continue to grow throughout this year.”

Foresight, along with additional investment from Brian Murphy and Santander, provided funding for the deal.

Fieldway’s advisers on the transaction were DWF (legal), Armstrong Watson (finance and tax), BTG Advisory (structuring), RPL Advisory (commercial), ECSC (cyber) and Marsh (insurance).

IPCL was advised by Sintons (legal) and Tait Walker (finance).

*Featured in BusinessLive on 28th February 2022

 

GAP Group North East Limited secures multi-million pound investment

Resource management firm GAP Group North East Limited has secured a multi-million pound investment, supporting its ambitious plans to double turnover to over £30million within three years.

The Gateshead-based recycling and reprocessing business employs 110 people in the region, and is being supported in its expansion ambitions by Ritchie Bland Energy Limited (RBE).

Peter Moody, managing director of GAP Group, and Ian Bainbridge, a director of the North Yorkshire renewables and environmental technology investment company, agreed the investment in early December.

Peter said: “This investment represents the culmination of a lot of hard work from the staff and leadership team here at GAP over many years.

“We’re delighted that RBE has clearly understood our achievements so far and the future potential. It will allow us to push on and rapidly get to the next scalable stage of our growth with our shared ambition to achieve truly national coverage and become the market leader.

“The plans will see GAP expanding the capacity at its site in Gateshead by 4,000 square metres, investing in additional materials separation equipment, such as in leading technology that will enable precious and rare earth metals alongside other materials to be efficiently reclaimed from recycled circuit boards and other WEEE (waste from electrical and electronic equipment), together with a significant expansion of our fleet of logistics vehicles.

“We will be looking across the UK for opportunities to open and operate new sites as a key part of our commitment to achieving national coverage.

“The electrical waste and resource recovery sector is a rapidly growing and important area of focus which will only increase as precious rare earth metals become more and more crucial to the economy and their reuse to protecting the environment.”

RBE has offices in Darlington and Richmond, and a successful background in leading and investing in renewable energy and environmental companies and climate change businesses.

Ian Bainbridge, one of four directors at RBE, said: “We have a lot industry experience and a great interest in this challenging and growing sector and Peter and his team have distinguished themselves over many years by showing great foresight, determination and prudent reinvestment to put themselves in the position they are in now, poised for further growth.”

Peter Moody added: “We’re very excited at the prospect of working with Ian and the team at RBE with their excellent key sector knowledge and experience of making strategic investments.”

Law firm Sintons supported RBE in making the investment into GAP Group, with the deal being overseen by corporate partner Adrian Dye and senior associate Emma Pern.

“GAP Group is a business with huge potential, and through this significant investment from RBE, will now be able to unlock that and work towards its ambitions on a regional and national basis,” said Adrian.

“This marks another strategic investment from our client in the development of a sector at the very heart of our economy, and we are very pleased to have been able to support them in this.”

Freight services and road haulage provider snaps up two firms

A Burnley-based provider of freight services and road haulage has acquired two haulage firms, supporting growth to a projected annual turnover of £100m.

The deals follow a number of other acquisitions made by EFS Global Ltd in recent years and further expands its reach across the UK.

EFS has acquried the entire issued share capitals of Gees Haulage Ltd which is located in Wakefield, and Gateshead-based Tyneside Express Transport.

Both provide a comprehensive range of haulage, distribution and warehousing services. The acquisition team at EFS was led by Jordan Kellett.

As a result of the acquisitions, 235 vehicles – including trailers – and 115,000 sq ft of warehousing space have been added to the company’s portfolio. The values of the transactions have not been disclosed.

Mark Jones, managing director of EFS Global, said: “2021 saw substantial growth for EFS and we are delighted to start 2022 by announcing these new deals.

“They both mark significant steps in our ongoing growth strategy and will enhance our ability to service our clients around the country.”

Nadeem Hussain from Pierce Accountants provided tax advice to EFS Global.

Other acquisitions made by EFS in recent years including Euro SDB, CS Brunt, Bradtrans International, Horizon Distribution, Euro-Tran Despatch, JRS Traction, PDQ Specialist Courier Services, FWD Freight Services, Caistor Distribution, AFI UK Ltd, Austin Wilkinson & Sons Ltd, Courier Connections (Scotland) Ltd and Thomas Harwood & Son.

This article appeared in Insider Media, 18th January 2022.

Direct Debit bureau acquired with support from Sintons

Technology group ClearCourse Partnership has revealed a deal to acquire a North Shields-based direct debit bureau with support from Sintons.

Secure Collections, which has been trading since 2003, will join ClearCourse’s payments division and will bolster its direct debit offering ClearDebit.

Secure Collections, which was co-founded by Alan Richardson and Bernie Brown, provides commercial direct debit bureau and contingency services, handling direct debit payments on behalf of non-profit organisations such as LOROS Hospice and St Oswald’s Hospice.

In 2021 the company processed eight million individual direct debit transactions on behalf of its customers read more>>

‘Strong reputation’ sets banking team apart

The banking and finance team at Sintons has again been confirmed as a key advisor in its specialist field by Chambers and Partners 2022.

The team has a “strong reputation”, says Chambers, and has specialism in acting for lenders and borrowers on banking and finance transactions, as well as real estate acquisition finance matters.

The breadth of its client base is also highlighted, spanning the banking, leisure and health and social care sectors.

Head of banking Jane Meikle is again named as a notable practitioner in her field, and is hailed as being “very straightforward, practical and easy to talk to”.

Client testimonials quoted in Chambers point to Sintons’ banking team as being “proactive…they break things down” and that its service is a key part of the offering to businesses from an “excellent all-round firm”.

The latest endorsement from independent legal publication Chambers comes only weeks after Legal 500 had a similar verdict of Sintons’ banking expertise, with both its legal and client service winning praise.

Legal 500 also said Sintons stood out in the marketplace for its support of clients during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Christopher Welch, managing partner of Sintons, says: “Our expertise in banking and finance is well-renowned and our presence in this area of work continues to grow.

“We are regularly involved in very significant transactions on behalf of major clients and are known for the excellent service we deliver alongside a bespoke service, both of which are values at the very heart of Sintons.

“It is excellent news this has again been recognised by Chambers, with its independent endorsement coming only weeks after that of Legal 500, and confirms Sintons’ position at the very forefront of this sector.”

Legal and client service excellence praised in corporate team

The legal expertise and first-rate client service delivered by Sintonscorporate team has again earned praise from Chambers and Partners.

Chambers 2022 points to the firm’s strength in M&A transactions, alongside insolvency, restructuring and corporate finance matters, as making it stand out in the marketplace, alongside its “notable experience” in a host of industries.

The independent legal publication also highlights the level of service it delivers to clients, the majority of whom are SMEs, private companies and owner-managed businesses. One is quoted as saying the team is “insightful, intelligent, professional, and an extension of my business. They feel like part of our everyday life and business.”

The team is known across the North of England for its capability, particularly in complex transactions, and Chambers quotes a notable example as its role in advising the existing shareholders and directors of Climb Creative on the merger of Climb Creative, Precision Printing, ProCo Group, Prime Print Group and their respective subsidiaries, into one larger group under a new holding company, Halo Print.

Three of Sintons’ corporate partners – Matt Collen, Adrian Dye and Managing Partner Christopher Welch – are all hailed as notable practitioners in their field.

Adrian, who primarily focuses on private equity fundraisings and exits, is hailed as having a “good depth of knowledge and provides good pragmatic and commercial advice”.

Matt, a specialist in M&A work for buyers and sellers and private equity investments, is quoted as giving advice that is “clear, direct, reliable and always positioned with real-world pragmatism – something which I very much value and which is a rare quality.”

Christopher, a leading name in corporate reorganisations and acquisitions, is said to be “excellent – very attentive to his clients’ needs, and his commercial approach is an added value….absolutely brilliant, level headed.”

The wide-ranging praise from Chambers comes only weeks after Legal 500 reported similar findings from Sintons’ corporate and commercial offering, with its combination of legal and client service excellence setting it apart from many competitors.

“We are very proud of the reputation we have built for our work in this area and the support we give to businesses and business owners regionally and nationally. Routinely, we are by the sides of our clients for years and build trusting relationships which can span several generations of business ownership,” says Christopher.

“We are very pleased that this deep commitment to our clients and the service we give to them has again been independently recognised by Chambers, only weeks after Legal 500 reported similar conclusions.

“We have a strong and capable team who are able to complete the most complex of transactions and it is excellent that our continuing development and progress, while remaining true to our core ethos, is being recognised in this way.”

Sintons again recognised for capability across the board by Chambers 2022

Sintons has again been hailed as one of the leading law firms in the North of England in newly-released rankings from Chambers and Partners UK.

The firm, consistently praised for its strength and capability throughout the business, again wins recognition for its legal expertise, deep experience and first-rate levels of client service.

Practice areas across the business win recognition as leaders in their field, with healthcare again being confirmed as one of the key advisors nationally for its work with growing numbers of NHS Trusts, organisations, professionals and healthcare businesses across the UK.

Chambers and Partners 2022, published today, also highlights 17 of Sintons’ lawyers as being stand-out names in their specialism, many of whom are recognised in the legal marketplace as being leading figures regionally and nationally.

The rankings come only weeks after Sintons won similar praise across the board from Legal 500, which also recognised the wide-ranging expertise, legal capability and service excellence the firm delivers to its clients.

Both Chambers and Legal 500 are independent publications which assess and rank law firms and lawyers throughout the UK, based on interviews, examples of work, and client and peer testimonials.

“For over 125 years, Sintons has built a well-deserved reputation as a first-rate legal advisor delivering outstanding levels of service to its clients, and those values have remained at the heart of the firm since our foundation in 1896,” says managing partner Christopher Welch.

“That these key features are consistently highlighted by independent legal publications like Chambers and Partners, and recently Legal 500 too, is a huge endorsement of what we do here at Sintons. Businesses, families and individuals put their trust in us to deliver an outstanding legal and personal service and that is what we deliver.

“Chambers again confirms our strength across the whole Sintons business, with capability and talent running throughout the firm, and a shared commitment by everyone here to continue to build Sintons so it can be the best it can be. We are all delighted to again have our efforts recognised in this way.”

Banking and finance praised for support during COVID

The banking and finance team at Sintons has won praise from Legal 500 2022 for its breadth of expertise and capability, and is highlighted for its support of the business community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The specialist team, widely recognised as a regional leader in its field, has again been praised for its work in a wide range of matters, with Legal 500 pointing to its work on refinancing mandates, particularly in the real estate sector.

Legal 500 also praises the team for being “very active” during the pandemic, working with businesses to secure support under the Coronavirus business interruption loan schemes and in accessing emergency overdraft facilities.

Practice head Jane Meikle, named as a next generation partner, is hailed for her significant experience and capability in real estate finance work for both lenders and borrowers.

In testimonials quoted by Legal 500 2022, clients point to the outstanding service levels and support the team provides.

“The refinancing exercise was carried out during lockdown – but it was nevertheless quite seamless. Jane Meikle’s persistence helped drive the transaction to a successful conclusion,” said one.

A lender client confirmed Sintons’ “very engaging and hands-on” approach which led to the team delivering “support proactively with advice and guidance”.

Christopher Welch, managing partner at Sintons, says: “Our banking and finance team has developed significantly over the past few years to become a leading name in this sector regionally and beyond. We are very proud of the reputation we have built and we are delighted to have further independent verification of this from Legal 500.

“Jane’s work in developing the team and our presence in the region’s banking and finance sector has been outstanding and we are very pleased to see her win particular praise. As a hugely capable department with significant ambition to develop further, I have no doubt this is an area which will continue to be a key part of Sintons’ offering to businesses.”

Corporate and commercial confirmed as leader in its field

The corporate and commercial team at Sintons has again been confirmed as one of the leaders in its field in the North of England by Legal 500 2022.

The independent legal publication praised Sintons for its strength across its offering, with its work in M&A transactions, buyouts, private equity deals and corporate restructuring being hailed as of particular significance.

It was also said to be “at the forefront” of healthcare work, while winning praise for its “strength” in energy and oil and gas, as well as leisure.

Three of the department’s key partners – Adrian Dye, Karen Simms and Christopher Welch, also managing partner of Sintons – were named as leading individuals in the North of England.

Senior associate Emma Pern was again recognised as a rising star, and partner Matt Collen was also highlighted as a key individual in the department.

Testimonials quoted in Legal 500 attest the key qualities on which Sintons prides itself – legal expertise combined with an outstanding personal service.

“Every single team member and every brief Sintons undertake is of the highest quality. They are a unique practice which delivers above and beyond my expectations,” Legal 500 quoted one client as saying.

Another said: “Each individual partner I work with makes me feel like we are one team. The used language is “we” and “us”, never “I” or “you”.

“The confidence they give me to run my business is a rare value to find and one that I could not be without. Chris Welch has made both myself and my business the success it is today.”

Christopher Welch, said: “Our reputation as one of the leading names in the North of England is something we are very proud of, and which we strive to continue to build. We are committed to delivering legal excellence and bespoke client service in each and every matter and we are delighted this has again been recognised by Legal 500.

“As an ambitious department and firm as a whole, we continue to win new work and clients throughout the UK, but continue to invest in the relationships with longstanding clients, many of whom have been with us for years and several generations of business ownership. Our clients are at the heart of everything we do, and to read such outstanding testimonials from them, attesting the fact we really do go above and beyond for them, is very pleasing indeed.”

Sintons once again wins praise from Legal 500 2022

Law firm Sintons has again maintained its reputation as one of the leading law firms in the North of England in newly-released rankings from Legal 500, winning plaudits for its strength and expertise across the firm.

Legal 500 2022, released today, renews its praise of Sintons and confirms them as being a go-to legal provider in the region in many key practice areas.

The independent publication – which ranks law firms and lawyers across the North, compiled as a result of examples of work, interviews and client and peer testimonials – names eight of Sintons’ lawyers as leading individuals, three as next generation partners and a further six as rising stars. One of its lawyers also secures the highly coveted accolade of being named in the Legal 500 Hall of Fame, in recognition of consistent achievement throughout their career.

The latest Legal 500 rankings add further to the long-standing reputation of Sintons – winner of five awards at the most recent Northern Law Awards, including overall Law Firm of the Year – as a leading player in the North of England, with national reach and capability in many of its departments.

The leading individuals at Sintons, as identified by Legal 500, are:

The next generation partners, as identified by Legal 500, are:

The lawyer named as member of the Legal 500 Hall of Fame is:

The rising stars at the firm are:

Christopher Welch, managing partner of Sintons, said: “We are very proud of the reputation we have built during our 125 year history as being a law firm which consistently offers legal excellence and an outstanding service to our clients, and for these two factors to again be recognised by Legal 500 as being a staple of Sintons’ offering is very pleasing.

We are delighted to maintain our position as one of the leading law firms in the North of England, with strength, capability and experience running throughout our practice areas.”

Sintons completes film production merger

Two North East-based video production agencies have merged to become one business, in a move designed to help accelerate their growth and national reach.

YourFilm and Digital Sidekick have now merged under the YourFilm brand, bringing to fruition a project which was put on hold in March 2020 with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Founded in 2005, YourFilm has a portfolio of clients including Admiral, Flymo, Frank’s The Flooring Store, Nissan, Sage and Thomson Reuters, as well as working with agencies on projects for brands such as Warner Bros. Games, The Walking Dead, Parkdean and Ladbrokes.

Digital Sidekick founder Marc Runkee has now joined YourFilm as production director, heading the agency with co-founders Matthew Newman and Kevin Owens.

The new structure will see the three directors lead the five-strong team from its base in the Northern Design Centre, Gateshead.

“We’ve been working with Marc on ad-hoc projects for a couple of years now and in summer 2019 I floated the idea that we’d be stronger together than apart,” says YourFilm co-founder Matthew.

“We needed another senior creative who could produce work and Marc was the perfect choice as we had witnessed his creative talent first-hand. He was also keen for the support of a team, rather than running things entirely on his own.

“We’re really pleased to have Marc onboard with us, especially as we continue to set our sights on further growth in the coming months.”

Digital Sidekick founder Marc Runkee adds: “Having run Digital Sidekick for over 11 years I was ready to take our offering to the next level and in order to do that, I needed to work with more people and be able to tap into more resource and a broader range of skills.

“Merging with YourFilm was the right choice – I’ve collaborated with Matthew and Kevin on various projects and they have bags of experience in the sector.

“It’s my aim to add my experience to their offering so that we can work with more clients on exciting projects, both regionally and nationally.”

The merger was completed by law firm Sintons, with corporate partner Adrian Dye and solicitor Jonathan Tutu leading the transaction.

“YourFilm has established itself as a leading name in the North East’s burgeoning creative sector and its client list of national and international household names tells its own story of the impact it has made and the reputation it has earned over the past 16 years,” says Jonathan.

“Its merger with Digital Sidekick, and with it the addition of new creative expertise and insight to its team, is a great move and shows the team are never ones to miss an opportunity. This stands them in strong stead going forward and we wish Matthew, Kevin, Marc and the YourFilm team every success.”

Northshore Coffee Co expands to open a permanent base

A mobile coffee business which is a regular fixture at events across the country is putting down permanent roots in its native North East through the opening of its first permanent base.

Northshore Coffee Co has built a strong reputation and following through its mobile offering, which sees its team travel nationally to supply its high-quality coffee and food offering to events and pop-ups.

More recently, in the absence of events, the business has developed a new client base through setting up a pitch in Gosforth during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, its founder Toby Davison is investing in a permanent site for NorthShore Coffee Co, by opening an outlet in Newcastle’s Grainger Market.

The cafe adds further to the market’s well-known food and drink offering, which boasts an array of local independent operators and attracts a strong and loyal clientele.

“This will be the next step for us in our growth and it will be great to have something in the city centre,” says Toby.

“The Grainger Market is known for exactly what we provide, high-quality food and drink which you can grab on the go, so it’s a great fit for us in that respect.

“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind journey for us since we opened, we’ve been travelling up and down the country to events and have built a reputation really quickly, and this will be a great addition to that.”

The opening of the cafe is the latest innovation for NorthShore Coffee Co, which was forced to re-evaluate its business strategy when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“We’ve always done events and festivals, we never did street trade, but then March came and all of the events we’d spent the whole winter planning and preparing for were cancelled. We had an empty diary so had to think fast,” says Toby.

“I started off doing coffees in Fenham and it was amazing how quickly we built a customer base, word travelled so fast through WhatsApp groups. But it became a bit tricky to get parked there sometimes, so it wasn’t going to be a long-term option.

“In the past few months, we’ve found a great site on Moorfield in Gosforth, which has turned into a big positive for the business. We’re there every weekday from 8am to 4pm, and from 9am on a Saturday, and have built a regular following.

“It wasn’t something we would have done if the pandemic hadn’t hit, but it’s been really nice to become a regular stop-off for so many people during some really tough times.”

Northshore Coffee Co has been supported in its Grainger Market expansion by law firm Sintons, with corporate solicitor Jonathan Tutu acting for the business.

“NorthShore Coffee Co has built a strong reputation in a short period of time for its mobile offering, and its acquisition of a permanent base will give strong foundations on which to build further,” says Jonathan.

“We are very pleased to support Toby with his new premises and wish him and his team the very best with their opening.”

‘We’re proud to have helped make Sintons the firm it is’

As Sintons celebrates its 125th anniversary, some of its team share their thoughts and experiences of being part of the firm and playing their role in its growth. From those who have been at Sintons for over 30 years to those who have joined more recently, here they discuss what makes the firm stand out in the competitive legal marketplace, while also being a great place to work.

Amanda Maskery, partner and head of NHS healthcare

“I have been at Sintons now for nearly 20 years and during that time I have progressed from trainee to partner level and more recently to head of our fast-growing NHS Healthcare team. Many of my clients have been with Sintons for years and grown with me and I think a large part of that is because we have built such strong and trusting relationships with them.

The firm has grown significantly since I first started working here – it has doubled in size.  However, the same culture, values and traditions are still imbedded which means whilst the firm changed in size, it still embraces the supportive nurturing culture you only find at Sintons which cascades from the top down.

As I began life as a trainee at Sintons, it’s fantastic to be able to support others in progressing and achieving their goals. We have a strong team and great dynamic and that is evident to our young lawyers who bring with them a refreshing approach to the Sintons culture.”

Leah Greenwell, solicitor apprentice

“Starting my career, it was important to find a firm with local roots and a reputation for providing high quality training. The first-class levels of service Sintons provide is testament to the standard of training they deliver, and there was no question which firm I wanted my career to start in.

Sintons have always focused on ensuring that my development is put first and have laid the foundations for a successful career as a solicitor. Being a full service firm has given me the opportunity to experience all areas of law and has exposed me to a variety of high value and complex work. I look forward to what the future holds for me at Sintons.

Although the marketplace is competitive, Sintons longstanding history and their presence, both locally and nationally, will always place them at the forefront.”

Anne Smith, secretary

“I started at Sintons in 1986 and this year in November will have been here for 35 years.

I still remember my first day like it was yesterday. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, and it is still like that today – almost like a second family to me.

“I have mainly worked in private client and worked for lots of fee earners and partners. In 2000 I started working for Steve Freeman who then went on to become a Partner and Head of the Private Client Department. I have now worked for him for 21 years this year and I can honestly say it has been a pleasure and an honour to work for such a lovely man – we have a great working relationship. I also work with the rest of the Family Department and work for such lovely fee earners.

I am also very proud to say that my daughter Emma also works for Sintons in the Conveyancing Department and she also loves her job and the team she works with.

I have seen many changes over the years but one thing remains constant – Sintons is a great place to work. I have made lifelong friends here and they will remain so.”

Emelie Vardon, solicitor

“Sintons’ heritage was very important to me when choosing to join Sintons. I came here as a trainee solicitor in 2017 and making the right choice for my future career was crucial. Knowing Sintons’ reputation and history, I couldn’t have made a better decision.

This is such a great place to work with a warm and welcoming environment. Following the completion of my training contract in 2019, I joined our developing Wills, Trusts and Estate Disputes team. Under Emma Saunders’ excellent leadership and support, my first year as a qualified solicitor has been excellent groundwork for my future career in this specialist area of law.

As a full-service law firm, I consider that Sintons is well-placed in the competitive market.”

Mark Dobbin, partner and head of real estate

“I joined Sintons as a trainee in September 1997. At the time the firm consisted of about 80-90 people. We were operating from an office in Portland Terrace in Jesmond, it was like a rabbit warren for a new starter as it was multiple old terraced houses converted and joined on different floors.

The main changes have been the massive growth in size and expertise, plus multiple office moves until finally landing at the Cube. When I qualified in 1999 myself and the partner at the time (Andrew Walker) were the Sintons commercial property department. Since then we have grown significantly.

Sintons has always been and remains a great place to work, we have an excellent team in Real Estate and will continue to succeed because of the efforts of our staff.”

Pippa Aitken, senior associate

“Sintons was much smaller when I joined in 1998. It was a friendly, family firm renowned for its reputation in private client and personal injury work. There was no dedicated corporate and commercial department.

“I was the only trainee and was sent on all sorts of weird and wonderful jobs – witnessing wills, attending infant settlements and the odd trip to the bank for the accounts department!

Sintons has become a lot more sophisticated in its working procedures and there is a much faster pace of life with emails being the most popular form of communication. I have seen some great lawyers leave and some great lawyers arrive but everyone soon seems to inherit the ‘old’ Sintons sense of fun, respect and teamwork.

Sintons is in a great place going forward. Virtual working has opened up some great opportunities to spread our wings and engage with clients even better than before.”

Sarah Smith, partner and head of licensing

“The firm has almost doubled in size since I started in  2005. The range of services offered by the firm has expanded quite significantly since then too, making the firm much more attractive to commercial clients.

When I first came to Sintons, I headed up the department with Lucy Winskell (now chair of NELEP and Pro Vice-Chancellor of Northumbria University). Since her departure I have headed it up myself. In spite of that, the department has grown in its client base and the amount of work we deal with on an annual basis.

With the growth in size and services we continue to see, I think Sintons are very well placed in the market to take advantage of opportunities going forward.”

Astrid Stevenson, secretary

“I joined Sintons on 21 October, 1997, and will have been here for 25 years this year.

I think when I started there were only about 80 people working at Sintons. We were based in Portland Terrace then moved to Osborne Terrace. We didn’t have open plan working like we have now, we had little rooms with approximately 3 secretaries in each room. I shared a room with Anne Smith from the first day I arrived and we have been firm friends ever since. Fee earners all had their own office. Basically, it was like a rabbit warren.

The staffing levels were very much smaller then, as I say about 80 staff then and now we have more than double that number. The computer system (Word Perfect 5.1) and equipment were top of the range for the time, and I think that has carried on until this day, our IT department have the latest of everything and are basically top notch.

Since I started 25 years ago, the firm has changed and has always moved forward with the times.  When I started there were no female partners. Hilary Parker and Karen Simms became the first, which was a very welcome breakthrough for Sintons.

We were like one big happy family with lots of social events, which thankfully still happen to this day, keeping the ethos of Sintons going.

I think if I didn’t enjoy working here I wouldn’t be celebrating my 25th years this year at Sintons. I’ve worked for the head of dispute resolution Angus Ashman for 24 of those years, and I think we work well together because we work as a team.

This is a very nice place to work, the people are all friendly and If anyone needs help with anything there is always someone there to help. I always think we are only as good as the tools we work with and I must say Sintons do provide all the best equipment and people and it makes the job so much easier if you have things like that in place.”

Sintons’ development – reflections from the Chairman

Sintons’ chairman, Alan Dawson, is one of the firm’s longest-serving people, having joined in 1980. Here, he shares his thoughts on some of the biggest changes and advances he has seen in the past 41 years.

Technology

When I joined in 1980, we used manual typewriters, although thankfully electric typewriters had recently become available. There were no screens at that time, but over the years we added one-line screens to the typewriters, then that went up to three or four lines. It was the early 1990s before we introduced computers.

There were no colour photocopiers so all of the plans we copied were in black and white. We would have to go over them with coloured pens to make them the same as the original.

The introduction of fax in the 80s was a game changer, everything before then was done by Telex or telegram if we needed ‘instant’ communication. The only problem was that due to the paper fax machines used at that time, the print would fade – we’d go back to the file six months later and the sheet would be completely blank! We had to remember to photocopy the fax when they came in for use in our records.

With property completions, all bank-to-bank transfers involved getting an actual cheque from the bank, and then going to the office of the other solicitor in the transaction to inspect the deeds and then complete the deal. Fridays, the traditional completion day, were often spent going between solicitors’ offices in Newcastle.

When mobile phones were introduced, we had one mobile for the firm to use, we didn’t have one each. It was one of the brick-like phones with a huge battery, but it was a huge novelty.

Thankfully things have moved on hugely, and Sintons now has a first-rate technology and IT infrastructure, which enables us to offer a very efficient service to our clients while keeping their data fully secure.

Size of the firm

Back in 1980, we had about 36 people – now we have around 170.

We really started to grow from the mid to late 90s, and in 1998 we moved our offices from Portland Terrace in Jesmond to bigger premises in Osborne Terrace, which comprised three and a half houses next to each other with an overspill office further down the road. We imagined that would give us room to grow for the next 15 years – but within the next two or three years, it was already too small.

We came to The Cube in 2004 and at first didn’t use the top floor of our four-floor building, although within the next couple of years we had expanded into there.

Over the years, we have added many outstanding lawyers to our team, both through recruitment from other firms as well as training young people-in house. Our commitment to supporting aspiring lawyers through their training contract has been unfaltering – I joined as an articled clerk (or trainee, as it’s now known) and have progressed through the ranks.

As the firm has grown then so too has our back-office and support functions developed. We didn’t have the infrastructure we have now, so no HR, IT or marketing department.

Our accounts system was all manual, the cashier had to write everything by hand. There was one card per client, so if you had to borrow it, then they couldn’t make any more entries for that client until you returned it.

Our HR function was our office manager, who kept a record of who was off and the reasons for their absence – reading it now, some of the reasons are quite amusing!

Law firms weren’t allowed to advertise at all until the late 1980s, so the only kind of marketing we could do was through the Yellow Pages. Now, we operate at the very forefront of the sector, adopting digital way before many of our competitors, and that early investment is helping us to stay ahead in the marketplace.

Practice areas

In the 1980s when I joined, Sintons had a very significant insurance litigation practice which acted for four or five of the major national insurers. The revenue from that area of the business probably accounted for two thirds of our entire income. However, in the early 1990s, we recognised that reliance on a few large clients or a particular work stream was not the best way to develop the firm and could make us vulnerable. We therefore made concerted efforts to radically change our business model and to further grow the other practice areas we had operated in for many years, including private client, corporate and commercial and real estate, and they proved to be areas of strong development for us. They continue to be key areas of the business for us and will be central to our ongoing progress as a firm.

We also moved into claimant personal injury work, which really took off in the late 90s and early 2000s. More recently, we have developed our national reputation as specialists in catastrophic and serious personal injury work with a thriving specialist neurotrauma department which handles life-changing brain and spinal cord injury work.

National reach

In the early days, we were more of a regional firm with clients mainly across the North East, and some in the wider North. Occasionally, clients moved to elsewhere in England which helped us to reach out nationally on a small scale, but we didn’t have much of a national reach.

However, as we grew as a firm, we started to work on a more national basis and now on an international basis as well. The improvement of technology was also an important factor in enabling us to communicate with people wherever they were by phone or fax, but more recently by mobile phone, email or even video calling which has proved so important during the pandemic.

Through our efforts to grow individual areas of the business – which in many instances have demonstrated substantial growth over the course of a number of years, underpinned by the hard work of our people – we have been able to add outstanding new lawyers to the team, whether they have moved to Sintons from elsewhere or have been trained in-house.

Now, we have a number of areas of the business which are regarded in the highest terms nationally, including our healthcare team, which has grown its presence over the past 10 to 15 years to become a national leader in its field.

We continue to receive growing numbers of instructions from across the UK and wider afield in almost all areas of the business, as our capability and reputation as a firm builds further still.

Building on our heritage to create a strong future

1896 marked a year of historic new beginnings and breakthroughs.

The year that saw the first modern Olympic Games held in Athens;

The introduction of the X-ray;

The development of the first Ford vehicle, the Quadricycle.

And in such a landmark year as 1896, with events taking place which went on to change history, it is fitting that this was the year when Sintons was founded and the foundations laid for the firm that it would become.

Having been founded as Sutton Cheshire & Thompson on February 8, 1896, to serve the people of Newcastle, the firm then merged with John H. Sintons & Co in 1971 – later becoming Sintons – and has grown into one of the leading law firms in the North of England, acting for ever-increasing numbers of business and private clients both regionally and across the UK.

Over the past 125 years, Sintons has developed a reputation for the quality of its advice, and crucially, the deep and trusting relationships it builds with its clients borne out of the outstanding service it delivers to them.

There are so many momentous events and developments which have taken place over such a long period of time and the world has changed, and continues to change, beyond recognition.

However, throughout that period Sintons has been working alongside individuals, families, businesses and organisations for 125 years, adapting and changing to meet new challenges and will continue to do so for the years to come.

As a law firm for changing times, Sintons continues to evolve, as it has done since 1896, to ensure it stays at the forefront of the legal market and in the best possible position to deliver excellence to its clients.

“Over the past 125 years, we have continually shown we are innovators, we are leaders. We have never been afraid to take bold decisions,” says Christopher Welch, managing partner of Sintons.

“A great example of this is when we invested in our head office, The Cube, in 2004. We were moving to an area of the city which was largely undeveloped and were, largely, surrounded by the old Scottish and Newcastle plant. Looking around us now, this is a thriving, fast-growing and sought-after area, which is the site of huge investment from both business and academia. We had the foresight to buy into these brave future plans and the ambition to want to become part of it.

“In these changing times, we will continue to evolve and develop, as we have done throughout our history, to ensure that at all times we are delivering the very best service to all our clients while also building and investing in the firm from within.

“We have stood the test of time for 125 years and are committed to ensuring Sintons maintains the reputation and presence that has been built so carefully into the future.”

For Christopher, who joined Sintons in 2003, the main differentiator between Sintons and its competitors is its unfaltering commitment to clients.

While continuing to attract new clients nationally, the firm is rightly proud of its longstanding client base, which includes many who have been with Sintons through multiple generations of their family or business ownership.

“The firm’s absolute priority from day one has been our clients and ensuring they receive the highest standards of legal and personal service. Our reputation is built on those foundations, which were laid by our previous generations of Sintons’ lawyers, and is one we are proud to continue to develop further,” says Christopher.

“At Sintons, we care about what we do, how we do it and we never forget that the clients we are working with are depending on us for, often, some of the most momentous decisions of their lives. As a firm, we recognise both the privilege and the responsibility that goes with this, it is fundamental to how we work and to our values as a business.

“Our clients are the front, back and centre of everything we do. We’ve been there for them whenever they’ve needed us for 125 years and that will continue to be the case as we move forward.”

And building further on its reputation for leading the way in the legal marketplace, Sintons continues to innovate to stand out from the crowd.

Having carried out a full rebrand in early 2020, to give the firm a fresh yet timeless identity, Sintons continues to invest in its future.

“Our rebrand was a significant step for the firm,” says Christopher. “Our branding represents the firm that we are; bold, innovative and providing clear and confident advice to our clients – a firm that stands out from the crowd.

“The use of technology to better serve our clients has always been an essential part of our growth strategy. Our founding partners would be aghast at the thought that we were able to have virtually all our colleagues working remotely – with some as far away as the Cayman Islands and Texas – without any impact on client service.

“By investing heavily in our website and online presence, we have created a resource which is available to clients wherever they are in the UK or indeed the world, giving them immediate access to information and support in ways which weren’t available before.

“The legal sector isn’t always the first to embrace change, but we are rightfully proud of the reputation we have built for standing out in that respect. For 125 years, we have taken bold moves, we have never shied away from making investment to equip the business for the long-term, and we have shown foresight and innovation to make the firm what it is today.

“This is a landmark anniversary for us, and in uncertain times, the investment we have made for many years in our infrastructure, development of our people and strategic recruitment means we remain confident in our future and the service we can continue to provide to our clients and to the regional community of which we are a fundamental part.

“These truly are changing times – but with 125 years behind us then we must be doing something right!  We know that our business will continue to evolve, with further investments in technology and infrastructure changing how and where we work. However, as we move forward, what is clear is that Sintons will always be right there, by the side of our clients, as we have been since 1896.”

Law firm Sintons is marking its 125th anniversary

Since its foundation in 1896, Sintons has grown to become one of the leading law firms in the North of England with a client base which extends across the whole UK.

It has become known as a key advisor to businesses and individuals acting on major, complex matters, regionally, nationally and internationally.

In many of its practice areas, including business, healthcare, private client and neurotrauma, Sintons is regarded as one of the UK’s leading specialist advisors.

Sintons has built a well-deserved reputation for delivering expert legal advice and outstanding service to every client, which is at the heart of the trusting and long-lasting relationships it has built during the past 125 years.

Testament to the quality of service provided is the fact that many of the firm’s clients have been with Sintons for decades, with the firm routinely being trusted to advise multiple generations of families and business owners.

Now, in its 125th year, and despite the ongoing challenges being presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Sintons remains confident in its future as the firm continues to develop and grow.

The firm can trace its roots back to the formation of Sutton Cheshire & Thompson on February 8, 1896, which merged with John H. Sinton & Co in 1971 to become Sinton & Co, and later Sintons.

The expansion of the amalgamated firm has seen it move offices a number of times in order to house its growing number of employees, moving from Portland Terrace in Jesmond to bigger premises in Osborne Terrace which were soon outgrown, resulting in the relocation in 2004 to its current purpose-built home, The Cube, opposite St James’ Park in Newcastle. A second site was added with the opening of a consulting office in York two years ago to help the firm service its increasing demand for work from around Yorkshire.

The move in 2004 acted as a springboard in the development of Sintons, with many people not having realised how big the firm had grown and heralded a period of strong growth across the firm as a whole, with legal talent continually added to build its expertise and capability further still.

This has been backed by continued investment in its IT infrastructure, digital offering and people, to ensure Sintons is well positioned for the future.

“We are very proud of the reputation we have built over the past 125 years, which has seen us become known on a national scale as a law firm of the highest capability which is absolutely dedicated to its clients,” says Christopher Welch, managing partner of Sintons.

“We have never been afraid to be leaders and to take bold decisions, which have frequently put us at the very forefront of the legal sector. We were, for example, building our online presence and digital business development platforms way ahead of our competitors and long before it was something that was embraced widely within the legal sector.

“Going forward, we are in a strong position, having built on the heritage and legacy of Sintons over the past 125 years to create a law firm with a national reach, regarded in the highest terms for the quality of both our legal and personal client service.

“This is a very significant milestone for us as a business, and while we reach it during some of the most challenging economic conditions in the country’s history, we remain confident in the future of Sintons.”

IP specialist hailed as go-to advisor

A specialist IP lawyer at Sintons has been confirmed as one of the leaders in her field in the North of England.

Pippa Aitken is a highly-regarded specialist in intellectual property, advising businesses across the UK on their rights and how to protect and commercially exploit them.

In recognition of her work, senior associate Pippa has been named as an Associate to Watch by Chambers 2021, which confirms her as a leading lawyer in her field while also recognising her future potential.

“Pippa is always really responsive and takes the time to understand what we need. She is all-round brilliant,” cites one testimonial in the independent Chambers publication.

Pippa has, for many years, been known as a leading IP advisor and has led the development of Sintons’ specialist IP practice. The firm has become known as a key name in this area of law, supporting major public and private sector clients with matters including trademarks, licensing agreements, commercial contracts and Software as a Service (SaaS) agreements.

Sintons’ IP team forms part of its corporate and commercial department, which won Team of the Year at the Northern Law Awards 2019.

Karen Simms, head of corporate and commercial at Sintons, says: “For many years, Pippa has been widely regarded as a go-to IP advisor, and has built longstanding relationships with clients across the country during that time. To see her expertise and potential in this field independently recognised by Chambers is fantastic.

“Our IP specialism is well known, and Pippa’s outstanding work has helped develop our reputation as a leading name in this area. IP is a hugely important factor for businesses and protection of such valuable assets is vital, particularly in such a challenging economic climate, and we are pleased to be helping so many clients to do so.”

Top lawyer again named as Leading Individual

One of the region’s most esteemed commercial lawyers has again been independently confirmed as a leader in her field in the North of England.

Karen Simms has become established as the trusted advisor to many businesses across the UK, based on her ability to handle matters of the greatest complexity while advising clients in a clear and direct manner.

Her expertise in the energy, waste and natural resources sector is a particular niche in the legal world, which leads to Karen’s instruction on some of the most significant deals in the country.

In recognition of her work, Karen has recently been named by Legal 500 2021 as a leading individual in the North of England – an endorsement she has received by the independent legal publication for the past six years.

Alongside her client work, Karen heads Sintons’ corporate and commercial team, a department known for its deep expertise and experience and involvement in completing major deals on a regional and national basis, which was named Corporate and Commercial Team of the Year at the Northern Law Awards 2019.

The team was also hailed as a leading name in the North of England by Legal 500, which praised its combination of delivering outstanding legal advice and focus on “maintaining excellent relationships with clients”.

Christopher Welch, managing partner of Sintons, said: “Karen is, without question, one of the most capable and experienced lawyers in the commercial world, who routinely handles major complex deals in the region and far beyond. Her expertise in the energy, waste and natural resources sector sets her apart even further.

“She has become the trusted advisor to business owners for whom she has supported their aspirations and development of their business for many years, and continues to be the go-to lawyer to assist them in their plans. The fact Karen has again been named as one of the leading individuals in the North of England’s legal sector is little surprise, but is worthy recognition of the outstanding work she does and the efforts she goes to on behalf of her clients.”

Leisure company acquisition completed by Sintons

A North East leisure group is under new ownership after being sold to a fellow family-owned operator in one of the biggest deals in the region’s sector during 2020.

Sir John Fitzgerald has been purchased by Ladhar Group, after it was put on the market earlier in the autumn.

The landmark deal was completed by Sintons, the longstanding advisors to the Ladhar Group, and ensures Sir John Fitzgerald’s North East heritage and ownership remain firmly in the city.

The group was formed in Newcastle in the 1850s when a young John Fitzgerald moved from Tipperary in Ireland to settle in Newcastle.

By 1900, he owned several bars in the city, but well as founding the pub chain, he was known for his philanthropy. Having served as Sherrif, Alderman and Newcastle’s Lord Mayor in 1914-15, he was later knighted for his services to the city.

Since the early 1970s the company has been run by his great grandson David Horgan.

The Ladhar Group, which works across the care, property and leisure sectors, was built by brothers Amarjit and Baldev Ladhar and is now run by their sons Barry and Michael, with its substantial leisure portfolio already including the likes of city centre go-to venues Pleased To Meet You, Redhouse and Lady Greys.

Through its acquisition, it adds popular venues across the region to its portfolio, including Crown Posada and Bacchus in Newcastle, 29 Bar and Kitchen in Tynemouth, The Manor House in Stockton, The Ridley Arms in Morpeth, Twin Farms in Kenton Bank Foot and The Pavilion in Backworth.

Barry Ladhar, director of Crafted Projects, which will incorporate the Fitzgerald pubs, said: “We are absolutely delighted to own one of the city’s most iconic companies and to be able to keep it in our home city.

“The Fitzgerald family has given so much to Newcastle and we are both thankful and proud to have been entrusted with taking on the pub estate which has built up such a superb and well-deserved reputation.

“We don’t need to tell anyone how difficult 2020 has been but we are very positive about the future. We are seeing tremendous investment in Newcastle and we want to continue to play a big part in that.

“The purchase of Sir John Fitzgerald fits in with our ambitions to ensure the hospitality sector and night-time economy of Newcastle will once again thrive when the pandemic passes.

“We recognise the importance of the generational family ties to the business and its development, which mirror our own experiences. We are delighted to be able to continue the family ethos that runs throughout the Sir John Fitzgerald group.

“Sir John Fitzgerald has not stood still over the last 125 years; it has retained historic character pubs whilst developing new, modern pubs and restaurants – as we have. The opportunity for synergy between our respective estates is an exciting one, and one we intend wholeheartedly to embrace.

“We believe our proven track record; our ability to combine the historic with the new; our emphasis, like SJF, on quality; our local, family base; places us, perhaps uniquely, in an ideal position to move the combined businesses forward for the future generations of patrons.”

Christopher Welch, managing partner and corporate lawyer at Sintons, and real estate partner Alok Loomba completed the deal on behalf of their client Ladhar Group, with support from colleagues across the firm.

Jane Meikle, head of banking, and corporate partner Adrian Dye also worked on the transaction, alongside specialists in Sintons’ employment team.

“This is a hugely significant deal for the North East’s leisure sector and one which unites two highly-esteemed, family-owned operators into one ambitious group, which is well placed to take advantage of the opportunities that lie ahead, post pandemic,” says Christopher.

“We have supported our client with their ongoing expansion for many years, and we are delighted to have completed this deal on their behalf, which is undoubtedly one of the biggest leisure transactions of 2020 for the region.”

Corporate lawyer again named as rising star of North’s legal scene

Regularly confirmed as one of the rising stars in the North of England’s legal scene, Emma Pern is building a reputation as a go-to corporate lawyer for businesses across the UK.

Emma, a senior associate at Sintons, is a specialist in matters including mergers and acquisitions, buyouts, private equity investments, solvent and insolvent reorganisations and corporate finance, and is establishing herself as a key name in corporate work.

Again named as a Rising Star by Legal 500 2021in which she was also hailed for her “clear and concise…approach and extremely personable” nature – Emma has become the trusted advisor to a range of businesses, from owner-managed ventures to large corporates, and has been involved in many deals of national and international significance.

Among her recent highlights are the sale of TDX (Europe) Limited to Italian-based AMB, creating a market-leading in the European packaging industry; the sale of a majority interest in Co-wheels Car Club to create the Oply UK car sharing network; completing the acquisition of Karting North East, a venue which has gone on to secure national attention though hosting the British Kart Championships; and overseeing the investment in MODS by the JGC Corporation which will accelerate MODS standing in the industrial software market.

Emma is part of the corporate and commercial team at Sintons, which was named Corporate and Commercial Team of the Year at the Northern Law Awards 2019 and is known regionally and nationally for the vast expertise and experience it has in its team.

Karen Simms, head of the corporate and commercial team at Sintons, said: “Emma is a huge asset to our team and her considerable legal talent, alongside her ability to translate even the most complex matters into something fully understand for her clients, has helped build her reputation as an outstanding corporate advisor.

“Regularly, Emma is involved in deals of great significance regionally, nationally and internationally. She works closely with partners Matt Collen and Adrian Dye in our team, who are independently leading names in their fields, which combines to make a very strong proposition for our clients. At Sintons, we are proud to offer legal excellence and an outstanding client service, which we deliver consistently to every client and in every transaction.

“We are delighted that Emma has again been named as a Rising Star by Legal 500, which is worthy recognition of the first-rate achievements she continues to make.”

Corporate and commercial team praised for capability and client service

Sintons’ award-winning corporate and commercial team has won yet more independent praise, with Chambers and Partners UK Guide 2021 hailing its capability and commitment to its clients.

The team is known as one of the most capable in the North for handling merger and acquisition work, alongside insolvency, restructuring and corporate finance matters.

It has a strong and loyal client base of SMEs, private companies and owner-managed businesses, which continues to grow.

Chambers hails Sintons as being a “very professional firm who go above and beyond for their client”, echoing the findings of the recently-released Legal 500 Guide 2021, which also praised the firm’s commitment to delivering legal and client service excellence.

Recent deal highlights for the team – named Corporate and Commercial team of the year at the Northern Law Awards 2019 – include acting for Co-Wheels Car Club in the sale of a majority stake to ExaMotive SA and Shanghai Automotive, creating the Oply UK Ltd car sharing network.

Three of its key partners – Matt Collen, Adrian Dye and Christopher Welch – were named as notable practitioners, in recognition of their specialism in corporate work.

Associates Pippa Aitken and Lucy Carlin are also named as Associates to Watch, with their work to date and future potential both winning them the coveted endorsement.

Christopher Welch, also managing partner of Sintons, said: “We have a deserved reputation for our work in corporate and commercial matters and are regarded in the highest terms for both our legal capability, alongside the service we deliver to our clients. We are regularly instructed in some of the most significant and high-profile deals regionally and often nationally too, and our deep levels of expertise and experience means we can complete such matters in a first-rate manner.

“We are extremely pleased that Chambers 2021 has recognised both of these factors, as Legal 500 did previously. Our clients are the front, back and centre of everything we do, so it is very important to us to win independent recognition of our commitment to delivering an outstanding service.

A game-changing agreement signed accelerating MODS standing in the industrial software market with support from Sintons

A “game changing” agreement between JGC Corporation and MODS will see a near one billion yen investment into the latter, accelerating its standing in the industrial software market.

The recently-signed capital participation agreement is for a 40% allocation of shares, and is hailed as heralding a game-changing partnership in industrial software supply to the energy sector.

MODS, which works globally from its base in Aberdeen, is already driving digital transformation in the energy sector with innovative industrial software applications that help operators and EPC’s plan, execute, and handovers in brownfield projects.

The investment builds this further still, with the launch of MODS Origin for new build projects. Jointly developed with JGC Corporation to digitalise the management of construction phases for EPC projects, MODS has hailed it as “firmly push(ing) our Industry 4.0 agenda”.

MODS was supported in securing the investment by corporate specialists at law firm Sintons.

This new phase in simplified and accurate reporting software will connect the remote workforce with safe and secure mobile technology specifically for greenfield projects. Organisational benefits include improved processes, productivity, and enhanced visibility into every step of project execution.

Jon Bell, chief executive of MODS, said: “The investment from JGC in MODS is a significant milestone in our journey. This will help us serve existing customers better and open the opportunities to accelerate our software solutions delivery to the market, enabling their digital journey. This agreement will allow our customers to eliminate bottleneck processes, and accelerate their projects’ economic viability.

“We are incredibly proud to be aligning with JGC, who are investing in the next chapter of digital transformation with MODS technology. JGC’s investment in MODS extends our ability to deliver much-needed solutions to enable cost-cutting benefits to our customers.”

For JGC, using the Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) module based on the MODS overarching software means accelerating Digital transformation (DX) as part of their ‘IT Grand Plan 2030’, which was formulated in 2018. The move essentially aims to improve efficiencies in project execution and accelerate the use of DX to benefit the energy industry.

The investment in MODS will enhance its offering to all EPCs looking to improve project execution competitiveness. MODS will continue developing and strengthening the existing solution for building, expanding, maintaining, and operating facilities, with the insights direct from engineers to engineers to provide fit for purpose solutions.

Matt Collen, partner in the corporate and commercial team at Sintons, and senior associate Emma Pern – recently named again as a rising star by Legal 500 – supported Jon Bell and MODS in the transaction.

“This is a very significant partnership within the industrial software market, which sees the combination of huge levels of expertise and innovation, backed by a sizeable investment. MODS has made great progress in recent years and this partnership with JGC Corporation promises to help unlock the next level,” said Emma.

“We were very pleased to support Jon and his team in this transaction.”

Corporate, commercial & banking praised for capability and client service

The corporate, commercial and banking teams at Sintons have again been confirmed as one of the leaders in their field by Legal 500, through their combination of outstanding legal advice and focus on “maintaining excellent relationships with clients”.

The teams were praised fortheir strength in the full spectrum of corporate transactions, winning particular plaudits for their capability in private equity transactions and investments.

Legal 500 2021 praises Sintons’ corporate and commercial specialists for being “open, approachable and extremely competent…providing the very best advice and guidance”.

The involvement of the team – winner of the corporate and commercial team of the year at the Northern Law Awards 2019 – in a number of key deals was highlighted, including acting for Co-Wheels Car Club in the sale of a majority stake to ExaMotive SA and Shanghai Automotive to create the Only UK car sharing network, and the sale of TDX (Europe) to a major player in the European packaging sector.

Sintons’ banking team won independent praise from Legal 500 for its strength in real estate finance and corporate refinancing matters. Its close collaboration with the corporate team on refinancing instructions following corporate restructurings, as well as on acquisition finance issues arising during management buyouts, won further praise.

Karen Simms, head of corporate and commercial, is again named as a leading individual in the North of England, who wins praise for developing “niche bespoke contracts expertise” in the energy, waste and natural resources sectors.

Senior associate Emma Pern maintains her position as one of Legal 500’s rising stars, who is hailed for her “clear and concise approach”.

Managing partner Christopher Welch was hailed as a key figure in the region’s legal marketplace, alongside Matt Collen and Adrian Dye, who were named as “go to” practitioners for investments and private equity work.

Head of banking Jane Meikle and partner David Ferguson won further praise for their work in the niche area of banking and finance.

“We have rightly built a reputation over many years for the capability we have here, coupled with the quality of service we provide, which has established us as one of the leading names in the corporate and commercial field in the North of England, supported by our fast-growing reputation as a leading banking specialist,” said managing partner Christopher.

“We are very pleased to be recognised again by Legal 500, and it is particularly pleasing for the quality of our client relationships to be highlighted. Our entire approach is built on delivering an outstanding service to our clients, who are the front, back and centre of everything we do.”

Sintons supports Climb in merger

A North East print company has merged with two of the biggest names in the industry to form an organisation aiming to become a leading force in print.

Precision Printing, based at North East BIC at Sunderland Enterprise Park, has joined forces with Sheffield-based ProCo and Prime Group in Nottingham to become the Precision Proco Group, a multimillion-pound operation which will be at the forefront of print delivery.

The merger also includes the online upload and print portal Where The Trade Buys and Gateshead-based digital solutions provider, Climb Creative.

Adrian Dye, partner in the corporate and commercial team at Sintons, acted for Climb in the merger.

The companies have worked together for a number of years and directors said the time is now right to formalise an arrangement and combine expertise, with the promise of “providing further value to both our customers’ operational marketing and wider business events”.

The new group will bring with it more than 60 years of experience in the print industry and will be able to offer nationwide coverage for all of its many services.

Gary Peeling of Precision Printing will become group CEO, Jon Bailey, formerly of ProCo, will take on the role of COO, Jon Tolley of Prime will be group CIO, Dominic Neary, will take the position of group CFO having joined from Just Eat bringing with him a wealth of experience of digital transformational businesses.

The merger creates a group with 325 employees across the UK, with the 135 at Precision Print’s HQ in Sunderland and site in Dagenham being joined by 125 at ProCo in Sheffield, 56 at Prime in Nottingham and nine at Climb in Gateshead.

Also joining the new board as chairman and merger advisor is former British Airways director, Philip Osmond.

The company works across a range of sectors, printing for leading consumer brands and retailers along with developing a number of e-commerce products and platforms.

Runners raise over £1,500 through Great North Run Solo

Over £1,500 has been raised so far by Sintons’ team of runners who took on the Great North Run Solo challenge.

The six-strong team committed to each completing 40 runs as part of the challenge, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Great North Run, which this year was cancelled due to COVID-19.

Collectively, the team ran more than 1,100km during the period of the Great North Run Solo challenge, which ran from June 28 – the birthday of the iconic half marathon from Newcastle to South Shields – and September 13, the date the event was due to be held.

In addition to funds raised for the NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal, the event’s charity partner, Sintons are fundraising for the firm’s nominated charity, the North of England Children’s Cancer Research Fund (NECCR).

To date, more than £1,500 has been raised, with donations continuing to be made in support of the team – head of banking Jane Meikle, head of real estate Mark Dobbin, real estate senior associate Louise Kelly, family senior associate Louise Masters, Court of Protection lawyer Sophie Robinson-Davies and real estate solicitor Alex Wilkins.

“Our team of runners have covered a very impressive collective distance for their Great North Run Solo challenge, and the total they have raised so far is excellent. Their commitment has been excellent and their efforts are greatly appreciated by the firm,” said Christopher Welch, managing partner of Sintons.

“We would like to thank everyone who has donated in support of our runners. We appreciate that these are very difficult times but through the generosity of so many people, we have added well over £1,200 – and counting – to our ongoing fundraising for NECCR.”

To donate to Sintons’ Great North Run Solo challenge and help raise money for NECCR please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sintons-neccr

Sintons oversees North News acquisiton

A regional news agency is under new management following the retirement of its founders after more than 35 years in business, in a deal completed by law firm Sintons.

North News and Pictures, which works nationally from its base in Newcastle, has announced husband and wife team Ted and Jane Ditchburn have retired from the company they founded.

The agency’s head of words Victoria Williams will now take over the firm as owner and managing director.

North News and Pictures was established in 1984 as a news and photo agency supplying newspapers, magazines and broadcast media with stories and pictures from across the North East region and wider UK.

Sintons acted for Victoria Williams and the company in its acquisition of their business, with managing partner Christopher Welch completing the deal.

Ted Ditchburn said: “While in some ways it is a real wrench to leave, the fact is that it that stepping back is something we have been working toward for a few years now.

“Vicky has a great team blending experienced, talented names, familiar to many in the media, with youth. Despite the Covid-19 crisis I and Jane worked with Vicky, as part of the handover process, to bring in three new employees only last month.

“She has been with us a number of years and knows the company inside out and has already been central to developing new clients and new products and services, with her knowledge of the whole new digital media landscape, and great energy, we couldn’t be leaving the company in better hands.”

New owner Victoria said: “Ted and Jane have been fantastic mentors over the years, and I will always be grateful to them for the opportunities they have given me, and the many interesting and valuable experiences they’ve enabled me to have, from very early on in my career.

“I would like to thank them both for passing on their business and leaving me equipped with the tools I believe I need to work towards taking North News to the next level and securing a bright future for the company and staff within it.”

Christopher Welch added: “North News and Pictures has established a reputation as a high quality, trusted brand within the media, with Ted and Jane creating an agency which has truly been built to last. Already 35 years old, its continual innovation means it is well set for the future, and Victoria’s knowledge and experience of the business will be invaluable in its ongoing success.

“We were delighted to act for Victoria, and wish Ted and Jane – as well as Victoria and her team – the very best for the future.”

Sintons’ runners top 1,100km in Great North Run Solo challenge

The team of runners from Sintons who are taking part in the Great North Run Solo challenge have covered over 1,100km collectively with several days still to go.

Sintons’ team committed their support to the challenge following the cancellation of the Great North Run, the iconic 13.1 mile run from Newcastle to South Shields, in its 40th anniversary year due to COVID-19.

The alternative, the Great North Run Solo challenge, tasks runners with completing a minimum of 40 runs of any distance between June 28 – the birthday of the Great North Run – and September 13, the scheduled date of the 2020 half marathon.

With less than a week remaining, Sintons’ team – head of banking Jane Meikle, head of real estate Mark Dobbin, real estate senior associate Louise Kelly, family senior associate Louise Masters, Court of Protection lawyer Sophie Robinson-Davies and real estate solicitor Alex Wilkins – have collectively covered over 1,100km as they approach their 40-run targets.

In addition to the official Great North Run Solo charity, the NHS Charities Together COVID-19 Urgent Appeal, Sintons are also raising money for the firm’s nominated staff charity, the North of England Children’s Cancer Research Fund (NECCR).

Christopher Welch, managing partner of Sintons, said: “While the cancellation of the Great North Run was very unfortunate, particularly in its 40th anniversary year, the creation of the Great North Run Solo challenge has proved a very worthy alternative for our team at Sintons. While the runs have been done individually, collectively this is a great team effort.

“Furthermore, we are very grateful for the significant donations that have been made so far in support of our team. These are difficult times but the generosity of so many people is greatly appreciated.”

To donate to Sintons’ Great North Run Solo challenge and help raise money for NECCR please visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/sintons-neccr

 

Historic mill handed over to community ownership

An historic Cumbrian mill has been brought into community ownership following a £2m restoration project which protects the site for future generations.

The corn mill at Warwick Bridge dates back to 1170 and flour has been made at the site for over 800 years, although has not been in use in recent years. It was largely rebuilt in 1845 and its recent restoration has equipped it for the future.

New and restored buildings and machinery has come at a cost of £2m, including a £1.34m grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and further funding from Historic England, the RDPE LEADER programme, and others including the Headley Trust, one of the Sainsbury family trusts.

To ensure the mill continues to thrive and can serve future generations of the community, Cultura Trust, the owner of the site, has leased the mill to Warwick Bridge Corn Mill Limited, a community benefit society, which will oversee the running of the mill.

Through a community share issue, which has seen over 200 people become shareholders in the venture, locals will be living, breathing, baking and eating the fresh straight-out-of-the-oven results of their efforts.

Warwick Bridge Corn Mill Limited has engaged a community enterprise based in Edinburgh, Breadshare, to run the operation. This will include flour production, baked products and courses in traditional breadmaking. In addition, volunteers will be able to lend a hand learning some of the skills in milling to keep the mill turning, which will keep the flour flowing.

The unique lease was prepared by law firm Sintons, longstanding lawyers to charity Cultura.

Graham Bell, director of Cultura Trust, said the handover marks 20 years of the trust’s determination to save this piece of living history and pass it into the hands of the community to run.

“We looked at options including creating a microbrewery, which back then were rare, but really, this mill has flour dust engrained in its walls and floorboards – we couldn’t ignore that call to revive the life it was made for,” he said.

Phil Healy, a neighbour of the corn mill who watched the mill sit idle, became the founding chairman of Warwick Bridge Corn Mill Limited.

“Receiving the sluice-gate key as a symbol of the lease is in character with this wonderful, powerful, longstanding “member of our community” that we’ll be taking care of. Every one of over 200 people who have bought shares feel strongly about this mill – their mill, their neighbour, their investment,” he said.

Paul Liddle, partner in the real estate team at Sintons, added: “This is a much-loved community site with a proud history stretching back hundreds of years. To revive its flour making past in the hands of local people who are so passionate about its purpose is a fantastic achievement. The corn mill can now serve this community for generations to come and we are delighted to have supported Cultura in enabling this benevolent handover.”

Sintons appoints Christopher Welch as managing partner

Law firm Sintons has appointed a new managing partner.

Christopher Welch takes up the position after 17 years with the firm, during which time he has become one of the most highly esteemed corporate lawyers in the North of England, acting for an array of leading businesses both locally and nationally.

A corporate partner in Sintons, Christopher has for some time been a part of the firm’s senior management team and has played a central role in major projects to help shape the future of the firm, including its recent rebrand.

Christopher has, during his 30-year career, acted for some of the most recognisable names in UK business. He will combine his role as managing partner with client work ensuring that he is still able to meet the needs of his loyal and longstanding client base.

Christopher takes over from Mark Quigley, who became Sintons’ first managing partner in 2017. During his fixed three years term in post, Mark has overseen significant growth in all areas of the Sintons’ business, with major new client wins and significant recruitment of leading lawyers underpinning the firm’s progress.

Mark, for many years known as one of the North’s leading personal injury lawyers, returns to his specialist field of work as head of personal injury at Sintons. He will help to spearhead the ongoing growth of that department and, particularly, its rapidly expanding neurotrauma team, which acts for clients across the UK and has become known as a leader in its field nationally.

Working closely with the firm’s chairman Alan Dawson and Sintons’ management committee, Christopher believes the strength and the wide ranging specialisms of the Sintons team is what sets it apart and what will continue to play a significant role in its future growth.

“Firstly, I would like to give my thanks to Mark for the excellent work he has done over the past three years,” said Christopher.

“Creating the role of managing partner position broke new ground for the firm and during his time in post Mark has worked tirelessly, with our management committee, to achieve great successes. As a result of this strong progress we have made, we remain in a strong position going forward, despite the ongoing economic uncertainty presented by COVID-19.

“I am very pleased to be appointed to the role of managing partner and look forward to meeting the challenges ahead. We have a hugely capable team at Sintons with many talented, committed people I know I can put my trust in. We will work together to achieve our ambitions as a firm for the benefit of all our colleague and our clients.

Having built longstanding relationships with my clients, many of whom have been with me since the earliest days of my career, I will continue in my role as a corporate lawyer. Being the trusted advisor to clients whose businesses and aspirations you come to understand over the course of many years carries great responsibility, and I will continue to act on their behalf and support them as we emerge from the pandemic and into the future.”

Innovationbubble acquired by MISSION with support from Sintons

An international psychological insights and behavioral solutions consultancy has been acquired by global agencies group MISSION, in a deal completed by Sintons.

Innovationbubble will sit at the heart of the MISSION group’s business model, extending the expertise and capabilities that it provides to its global network of agencies through the ‘MISSION Advantage.’

The consultancy provides research and advice to a growing portfolio of clients, from blue-chips including Asda, Aviva, HSBC and a number of leading pharmaceutical businesses, to high profile brands such as Diesel and SpaceNK, to help them better understand what drives the behaviour of their customers and ultimately how to improve marketing activity.

James Clifton, MISSION Group chief executive, said: “MISSION has a strong track record of integrating earning accretive acquisitions, broadening the group’s range of services, geographic reach and sector expertise. I believe the COVID-19 pandemic will present exciting new opportunities for our business and this acquisition is early testament to our ambitions.

“We are delighted to welcome the Innovationbubble team into MISSION. In the current environment, their unique insight into customer psychology and behaviour is hugely valuable as businesses look to capitalise on the shifting trends we have seen during these unprecedented times. I am confident their expertise will be an important addition to the suite of services we offer our clients through MISSION Advantage and look forward to working with Dr Simon and the team.”

Dr Simon Moore, CEO of Innovationbubble, said: “MISSION is a fantastic business and the collaborative culture and entrepreneurial spirit which the Group has fostered made them the natural partner for us.

“We are looking forward to becoming part of MISSION and excited to be working with James and the team as the Group continues to build on its impressive growth to date.”

Law firm Sintons acted for Innovationbubble, with partner Matt Collen and senior associate Emma Pern, from the firm’s corporate and commercial team, completing the deal. Associate Catherine Hope advised on employment aspects.

“This is a significant addition to the MISSION Group and presents many opportunities for Innovationbubble to progress its innovative work in psychology and behaviour to the next level as part of this ambitious collective of agencies. We are very pleased to have completed this transaction on behalf of our client and wish them every success for the future,” said Matt.

UTS defies economic conditions to purchase specialist manufacturer that supplies world leading brands

Rapidly expanding UTS Engineering, based in Jarrow, has defied the economic conditions to purchase Buckinghamshire-based Ulrich Ltd, a specialist attachment manufacturer for mobile plant machinery.

Established in 1998, Ulrich, which has a £5 million turnover, designs front-end attachments for wheeled loaders, tractors, excavators and telescopic handles for customers including JCB, Volvo, Cat, Bell, CNH and Liebherr.

The business, employing 15 staff, has strong synergies with UTS group company, LCR, based in Hull, which offers a 65,000sq ft facility, providing a fully equipped one-stop-shop, offering fabrication, stress relieving, high precision machining, load testing, shot blast and paint and assembly and test. Indeed, for a number of years LCR has been a supplier to Ulrich.

UTS, was established in 2001 by managing director, Shaun Sadler and employs in excess of 250 staff, the majority of whom are based at the company’s design and manufacturing facility at the Bede Industrial Estate, Jarrow.

Shaun Sadler, said: “Ulrich is highly respected in its sector for the quality and innovation of its products. It has an exceptional management team, headed by Jim Hopkinson, who founded the business in 1998. Amongst its customers are some of the world’s most iconic brands such as JCB and Volvo and it operates in a wide range of industries, including aggregates, recycling and forestry, as well as supplying organisations such as the Environment Agency, the Ministry of Defence and the US Army. We saw immediate synergies with the work we are already doing in the market through LCR Limited and when we realised there was an opportunity to purchase the business we moved very quickly.”

UTS Engineering produces a vast range of couplings, flange adapters and repair clamps for customers in the UK and export markets. Its unique selling point is having the capability to provide almost any product for the piping industry, to incorporate tailor-made solutions and to fabricate its products to suit any size of diameter and oval pipes, if required. In the UK its primary focus is the utilities sector but the company has an expanding foothold in the Middle East and has operated in Dubai since 2004, where it has both a manufacturing facility and office. In addition, it has two offices in Abu Dhabi and is about to open a factory and office in Saudi Arabia.

Jim Hopkinson, managing director, Ulrich Attachments Ltd, said: “We have a very good reputation in the market, not least due to our exceptional design capabilities and we have a strong order book. However, we remain very ambitious and to grow the business further we really need to step up our export activity, where we see great opportunities.

“We have developed a very good working relationship with UTS Engineering and we felt that with the additional resource that it can make available together with its growing presence across the Middle East, that it was perfectly placed to take the Ulrich brand to the next level. There are exciting times ahead as we look forward to being part of the group and to moving the business to the next level.”

Matt Collen, partner in the corporate and commercial team at Sintons, alongside senior associate Emma Pern, completed the deal on behalf of UTS.

Matt, said: “This is a very significant acquisition for UTS, which is again clearly stating its ambitions as a fast-growing player in this sector. By defying the economic conditions to make this acquisition, UTS has placed itself in a strong position to go forward and take advantage of further opportunities. As the long-standing advisors to Shaun and his team, we are very pleased to support them in completing this deal.”

Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

On Friday evening (29 May), the Chancellor announced a number of changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the “Scheme”) which will take effect over the coming months. The full details of the changes are yet to be published, but here is a summary of the main changes:

  • from 1 August employers will be required to start paying national insurance and pension contributions;
  • from 1 September the Government will only reimburse 70% of salary (maximum of £2,190), with employers having to top up the remaining 10% (or more depending on what is agreed with an employee);
  • from 1 October the Government will only reimburse 60% of salary (maximum of £1,875), with employers having to top up the remaining 20% (or more depending on what is agreed with an employee);
  • the Scheme will close to new entrants from 30 June, meaning that the final date by which an employer can furlough an employee for the first time will be 10 June, in order for the current 3 week furlough period to be completed by 30 June;
  • part-time working will be allowed under the Scheme from 1 July, brought forward from August as originally intended; and
  • the Scheme will close on 31 October 2020.

In terms of part time working, HM Treasury has confirmed that from 1 July, employers will be able to bring employees on furlough leave back to work for any amount of time and any shift pattern. Employers will be able to claim under the Scheme for any of an employee’s normal hours not worked, whilst having to pay any full hours worked together with the tax and NI contributions on those payments. To be eligible for a continued grant under the Scheme, employers will have to agree a new flexible furloughing arrangement with their employees and confirm this agreement in writing.

Further guidance on flexible furloughing and how employers should calculate claims is due to be published on 12 June.

You can find the full details published so far here.

If you have any questions in relation to the content of this article please contact a member of the Employment Team.

Ask the Experts weekly Q&A with Sintons’ Employment Team – episode 5

Ask the Experts weekly Q&A from Sintons’ Employment Team – episode 5 – with Keith Land and Ailsa Hobson.

These sessions have come about due to the employment team here at Sintons having been inundated with COVID-19 and furlough questions following the introduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the ever changing government guidance.

The team has also been giving some thought as to what work may look like following the relaxation of the current restrictions.

So, In order to give you an opportunity to share in some of that wisdom, the team have opened themselves up to these Q&A sessions which are going to last until the end of May. During these short, bite sized sessions, members of the employment team will answer three questions, although it will actually be four today, (either COVID-19 related or not) that you haven’t either quite got to the bottom of or that your employees persistently ask you.

Please click on the image below to watch the session.

Interest on overdue invoices

Allison Thompson, Head of Debt Recovery at Sintons recorded a podcast that concentrates on ‘interest on overdue invoices’.

Click on the icon below to listen to the podcast.

Legal considerations when taking on investment

Matt Collen, Partner in the Corporate Team at Sintons recorded a podcast for Newcastle Start up Week 2020 – online which concentrates on ‘legal considerations that apply when taking on investment in an early stage company’.

Click on the icon below to listen to the podcast.

 

Ask the Experts weekly Q&A from Sintons’ Employment Team – episode 4

Ask the Experts weekly Q&A from Sintons’ Employment Team – episode 4 – with Keith Land and Ailsa Hobson.

These sessions have come about due to the employment team here at Sintons having been inundated with COVID-19 and furlough questions following the introduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the ever changing government guidance.

The team has also been giving some thought as to what work may look like following the relaxation of the current restrictions.

So, In order to give you an opportunity to share in some of that wisdom, the team have opened themselves up to these Q&A sessions which are going to last until the end of May. During these short, bite sized sessions, members of the employment team will answer three questions, although it will actually be four today, (either COVID-19 related or not) that you haven’t either quite got to the bottom of or that your employees persistently ask you.

Please click on the image below to watch the session.

Sintons’ Employment Seminar – Managing the End of Furlough

Sintons’ Employment team, in partnership with Reed HR, have recorded the following complimentary online employment law seminar.

This seminar focuses on how to manage the end of furlough & potential restructuring.

Please click on the play button in the bottom left corner of the below image to start viewing.

To follow the full size slides the team are using throughout the presentation, please click here prior to commencing watching.

 

Ask the Experts weekly Q&A from Sintons’ Employment Team – episode 3

Ask the Experts weekly Q&A from Sintons’ Employment Team – episode 3 – with Keith Land and Catherine Hope.

These sessions have come about due to the employment team here at Sintons having been inundated with COVID-19 and furlough questions following the introduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the ever changing government guidance.

The team has also been giving some thought as to what work may look like following the relaxation of the current restrictions.

So, In order to give you an opportunity to share in some of that wisdom, the team have opened themselves up to these Q&A sessions which are going to last until the end of May. During these short, bite sized sessions, members of the employment team will answer three questions, although it will actually be four today, (either COVID-19 related or not) that you haven’t either quite got to the bottom of or that your employees persistently ask you.

Please click the image below to listen.

Sintons supports Newcastle Startup Week Online

Law firm Sintons has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting startup and scaleup businesses through lending its support to the first-ever Newcastle Startup Week Online.

The five-day Newcastle Startup Week festival, which has become a staple in the region’s business calendar since its launch in 2017, was due to be held from May 18 to 22 at a range of venues across Newcastle and Gateshead, attracting speakers and attendees from across the world.

However, due to COVID-19 and the fact it was not possible to hold events in person as planned, founder and director Paul Lancaster has launched Newcastle Startup Week Online, which will deliver its advice and workshops through an array of webinars, podcasts and blogs on Facebook.

Sintons is known as one of the leading advisors in supporting the growth and development of startup businesses in the North of England and is a longstanding supporter of Newcastle Startup Week. It has been a premium sponsor of the initiative for the past two years and its specialist lawyers regularly deliver workshops to delegates on issues including investor readiness and intellectual property.

Matt Collen, corporate partner at Sintons, will deliver a seminar to Newcastle Startup Week Online via video, detailing the legal considerations that apply when taking on investment in an early stage company.

Newcastle Startup Week in its traditional form will return in September, with Sintons continuing to lend it support to the festival and be part of its array of expert speakers. The firm’s team of specialists will be on-hand throughout the event to offer advice, based on their years of in supporting entrepreneurs with the full spectrum of legal issues they may face, from pre-startup to scaleup and beyond.

Karen Simms, head of corporate and commercial at Sintons, said: “We shared the disappointment of everyone involved when Newcastle Startup Week was moved to later in the year, although the circumstances were wholly unavoidable, but are delighted to lend our support to Newcastle Startup Week Online. The fact this fast-growing five-day event has been turned into an online showcase at such short notice is tribute to the innovation and commitment of Paul and his team, and testament to the hugely positive attitude we have here within the North East business community.

“As leading advisors to startup and scaleup businesses across our region, Newcastle Startup Week is always an initiative we are very proud to be associated with. It mirrors our own commitment to championing the outstanding businesses and entrepreneurs we are so lucky to have here and we are committed to helping them start or scale their businesses and achieve their aspirations and goals. We look forward to being part of the first-ever Newcastle Startup Week Online and to offering our support to entrepreneurs via Facebook.”

Enabling clients to access legal excellence on a global scale

The legal and client service excellence for which Sintons is renowned is not limited to domestic law but transcends borders for the firm’s clients through its membership of a global legal network.

Sintons is the principal and lead UK law firm in International Jurists (IJ), a network of 33 forward thinking law firms around the world which exists to provide the clients of its members firms with expert legal assistance in each of the different legal jurisdictions in which it operates.

IJ, which was founded in 1992, operates in 30 countries around the world – as far afield as Chile, Brazil, South Africa, the United States and Israel – and there are in excess 1,250 lawyers working in the member firms ready to provide services to clients of the member firms.

Member firms all share a commitment to legal excellence and dedication to providing an outstanding service to clients, and are subject to a stringent assessment procedure, including client references, site visits and a face to face interview process  prior to being accepted as an IJ member. In this way the technical ability and culture of each member firm is fully tested to ensure that the high standards of IJ are maintained at all times.

The intention has always been that member firms develop close working relationships, ensuring that any referral of a client to another member firm is never a “faceless” process – you know who you are passing your clients to and you know the standard of service that they are going to receive. To reinforce this it is a requirement that Members of IJ meet in person at least once a year to share best practice, shape the future strategy of IJ and, most importantly, strengthen working relationships .

Sintons has been an IJ member since 2008, and the values of IJ are of fundamental importance to the firm. With many of its clients operating internationally, through membership of IJ, Sintons is confident that its clients’ affairs will be handled in the relevant jurisdiction by a law firm which shares Sintons’ commitment to delivering excellence.

Equally, Sintons acts on behalf of clients of other IJ member firms around the world to advise on UK aspects of their work.

Chris Welch, corporate partner at Sintons, is also a member of the global IJ management board.

“Our membership of IJ, is of great benefit to our clients, particularly those with an international dimension or who operate on a cross-border basis,” he said.

“Over the 12 years we have been part of IJ, many of our clients have benefitted from access to legal expertise from around the world. In situations where their matters involve working in a foreign jurisdiction, the fact Sintons already has these global relationships in place means we can refer quickly and effectively to a firm that we know well and which we are confident shares our own values and our commitment to client service. This ensures their matter is handled seamlessly and without unnecessary delays. Likewise, we are pleased to work with fellow IJ members around the world to handle matters in UK jurisdiction on behalf of their clients. As the whole face of international trade changes following the UK’s exit from the EU then these relationships across Europe and wider afield will become even more valuable to both us and our clients.

“We are proud IJ members and our membership has given a strong international aspect to Sintons’ offering and helps to enable our clients to continue to thrive on a global scale.”

Ask the Experts weekly Q&A with Sintons’ Employment Team – episode 2

Ask the Experts weekly Q&A from Sintons’ Employment Team – episode 2 – with Keith Land and Angela Carver

These sessions have come about due to the employment team here at Sintons having been inundated with COVID-19 and furlough questions following the introduction of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the ever changing government guidance.

The team has also been giving some thought as to what work may look like following the relaxation of the current restrictions.

So, In order to give you an opportunity to share in some of that wisdom, the team have opened themselves up to these Q&A sessions which are going to last until the end of May. During these short, bite sized sessions, members of the employment team will answer three questions, although it will actually be four today, (either COVID-19 related or not) that you haven’t either quite got to the bottom of or that your employees persistently ask you.

Please click the image below to listen.

COVID-19 Q&A | Sintons | Corporate

During these unprecedented times, where the situation is changing on a daily basis, we are aware that individuals and business owners will have many questions and uncertainties about how these developments impact on them.

Here, through a series of Q&A with expert lawyers from across our firm, Sintons hopes to be able to answer some of those pressing questions, and provide some certainty and clarity for people who are unsure how to proceed.

We will bring you a question and answer per day for the next few weeks.

Q – I am looking into buying a business I know is struggling – would you suggest now is a good time to make such a purchase? Can I still access funding, will my bank lend?

A – Buying a struggling business referred to as ‘distressed’ or ‘accelerated sales opportunities’ can have its advantages and be for the commercial benefit of a similar or competitive business. It is, however, vital that any potential buyer takes legal advice to avoid risks and protect their position as much as possible.

One of the advantages of purchasing a distressed business it that the purchase price is usually discounted to reflect the risks being assumed by a buyer and this can be attractive to potential buyers who are prepared to take a punt. The reason for the reduced price is that any prospective buyer will be expected to take on any commercial risk associated with the business and assets. The principal ‘caveat emptor’, meaning ‘buyer beware’, applies, as any potential buyer will be buying the assets ‘as seen’, subject to any defects (including defects in title, physical condition or claims by third parties).

Another advantage is the time scales (and therefore the associated costs) in purchasing a distressed business. Because of the lack of available cash to fund the trading of a business (and the risk for an administrator in trading a business whilst insolvent) the sale process is usually accelerated and takes between 5-10 days from an offer being accepted to completion, compared to solvent acquisitions which can take months. Time is of the essence and therefore any potential buyer needs to take a commercial view on the transaction and rely on pragmatic due diligence which focuses on the key issues at a very high level. Such a high level review will reduce the professional fees associated with an acquisition.

A combination of sound commercial judgement and legal knowledge is needed to understand the opportunities and risks for the buyer. The key risks are:

  1. Commercial risk – as noted above the risk is always with the buyer in an insolvent acquisition
  2. Ongoing contracts – sellers will want buyers to assume responsibility for performing ongoing contracts, even if loss making. Poorly/unreasonably drafted arrangements may fix the buyer with responsibility for historic product/service warranties.
  3. No warranties or title covenants will be given in relation to the business and/or assets. This approach is in complete contrast to a purchase from a solvent seller where the buyer can expect the seller to warrant that it owns the assets, they are in good order and that there are no unexpected liabilities and where a buyer can bring an action against the seller if the warranties are untrue
  4. Employees – the Transfer or Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 could apply which could mean employees transfer to the buyer, which means the seller’s obligations and liabilities associated with these employees will transfer and become the legal responsibility  of the buyer
  5. Retention of title clauses over the stock – many suppliers incorporate retention of title clauses into their terms and conditions of supply. The effect of this is that a buyer may pay good money to a distressed seller to purchase the stock only to find that the seller has no rights in it, as the supplier has not been paid and they have a retention over the stock.

We are being told that the banks are still open for business but would anticipate that it will take longer than usual to access funding which may present difficulties if you need an accelerated completion.

* For any advice on this matter or any other acquisition or insolvency purchase matters, please contact Matt Collen or Emma Pern in the corporate team at Sintons on matt.collen@sintons.co.uk or emma.pern@sintons.co.uk. For assistance or advice with any banking or finance matters, please contact Jane Meikle, head of banking at Sintons, on jane.meikle@sintons.co.uk

COVID-19 Q&A | Sintons | Commercial | Startups

During these unprecedented times, where the situation is changing on a daily basis, we are aware that individuals and business owners will have many questions and uncertainties about how these developments impact on them.

Here, through a series of Q&A with expert lawyers from across our firm, Sintons hopes to be able to answer some of those pressing questions, and provide some certainty and clarity for people who are unsure how to proceed.

We will bring you a question and answer per day for the next few weeks.

Q – I have a great idea for an online business which I want to launch despite the challenging conditions. Do you think now is still a good time to launch a business? What legal measures do I need to put in place before I launch?

A – Starting a business can be an exciting but also daunting experience. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on businesses across the globe and understandable caution should be taken if you are considering setting up a business in the current climate. However, the pandemic has also highlighted many opportunities for online business with a virtual offering, given the constraints currently imposed by governments around the world. Ultimately the decision to set up a business in the current climate will be fact-specific and dependent upon an individual’s business and strategic plan.

When considering launching a business, there are various aspects to consider from a legal perspective:

  1. Type of business structure – there are various forms that your business could take, with the most common ones being:
  • Sole Trader – this is the simplest form of business structure whereby a single individual owns and operates the business. There is no distinction between personal and business assets and all debts and liabilities will rest with the individual. Little is required to formalise this business structure.
  • Partnerships – this business structure involves two or more persons carrying on a business with a view to profit. Under English law, a partnership can be a general partnership, a limited partnership or a limited liability partnership, all of which are distinct in terms of operation, legal formalities and liability of partners involved. A partnership agreement should be entered into to govern the relationship between the partners.
  • Private Limited Company – this business structure requires the incorporation and registration of a private limited company at Companies House which creates a separate legal personality. The company can be limited by shares or by guarantee and will provide limited liability for its members. The company will need a director who will be responsible for the day to day running of the business of the company. There is a distinction between a member’s personal assets and the business assets of the company.
  1. Funding – a business may require funding from banks or private investors and the funder may require some form of security over certain assets of the business or rights of ownership. It is important that you understand what you are signing up to, especially if any there are any unusual or particularly onerous terms. The business may also be eligible for funding from the regional LEP or certain grant funding available to SMEs. It is important to understand all the potential sources of funding available to your particular business which will depend on sector, location and size.
  2. Employees – if employees will be engaged to assist in the operation of the business, there are various steps that the business needs to take as a new employer including registering with HMRC and obtaining employers’ liability insurance. Employment contracts will also be required to regulate the relationship between employer and employee as well as appropriate employment policies to cover matters such as sick leave and maternity leave.
  3. Premises – if you are planning to enter into a lease of commercial premises for the business, it is important that you ensure that the lease reflects the key commercial terms agreed in the head of terms such as term, renewal, break clauses, rent payments and security required. It is also important to ensure that the use of premises envisaged by the business is allowed under the terms of the lease.
  4. Intellectual property/brand – any intellectual property created to be used in conjunction with the business ought to be identified and protected where necessary. A brand will be a crucial element in growing and developing a business and care must be taken to protect it.
  5. Commercial contracts – you will likely need to contract with third parties such as suppliers or customers in the ordinary course of your business and you should consider using standard terms of purchase or supply which include adequate protections for your business in terms of limitation of liability, early termination or cancellation. You will also need to ensure that your website includes appropriate terms of use and privacy policy.
  6. Data Protection – where you are using personal data in your business, you will need to ensure that you have the necessary compliance documents in place and that all necessary contracts meet data protection requirements.
  7. Licences and/or permits- depending upon the nature of the business in question, licences and/or permits may be required in order for the business to operate (for example, premises or environmental licences).

It is crucial the right legal advice is obtained from the outset to ensure you are doing everything you can to grow and develop your business in the most efficient way possible.

* For advice on this or any other business-related matter, please contact Chloe Dinsdale, senior associate in the corporate and commercial team at Sintons, on chloe.dinsdale@sintons.co.uk or 0191 226 3652.

COVID-19 Q&A | Sintons | Banking & Finance

During these unprecedented times, where the situation is changing on a daily basis, we are aware that individuals and business owners will have many questions and uncertainties about how these developments impact on them.

Here, through a series of Q&A with expert lawyers from across our firm, Sintons hopes to be able to answer some of those pressing questions, and provide some certainty and clarity for people who are unsure how to proceed.

We will bring you a question and answer per day for the next few weeks.

Q – My business has a loan from a bank with regular repayments being made. I am worried that in the current economic circumstances, the business won’t be able to make the repayments. What should I do?

A – Find a copy of your loan agreement and review the document. If you don’t have a copy, ask your bank for one or, if a solicitor acted on your behalf, ask them for a copy of the signed document.

Speak to your banker and explain the problems the business is currently facing so that they can work with you to discuss the options available.

Loan agreements contain many different terms and it will probably not just be the repayment obligations that need to be reviewed. Other clauses which the business may have problems complying with are:

Financial Covenants – these are financial calculations which are calculated on a regular basis (monthly/quarterly depending on the terms of your loan agreement). If cash flow in the business has dramatically reduced and you have a financial covenant that monitors cash flow you will need to speak to your bank about an immediate or future covenant breach.

Loan to Value – the value of any property you own which has been provided to the bank as security against the amount of your debt. This is an ongoing covenant and one which in the current climate is likely to be breached with property values falling.

Undertakings – statements that are repeated on set dates in accordance with the loan agreement. These statements, subject to the exact wording, have to be “true and correct” when made and repeated. It may be that some of the statement are no longer true and correct in the current climate.

Material Adverse Effect or Material Adverse Change (MAC) – MAC provisions typically allow for a lender to call an event of default in situations where the borrower’s position is substantially deteriorated from the date that they entered into the loan agreement. The provisions tend to be heavily negotiated so it is important you understand the MAC clause applicable to your business. From our discussions with all the major banks the clear feeling is, for these lenders, not to rely on MAC clauses but work together with their customers however all borrowers should be mindful of these clauses if the time comes when your lender can no longer continue to support the business.

Cessation of Trading – the majority of loan agreements contain an event of default if the borrower ceases or threatens to cease trading. If you have had to do so as a result of the Governments instructions you will need to discuss this with the bank.

Abandonment – if your loan is to finance a development it is likely to contain a clause whereby an event of default occurs if the development is abandoned for more than a set period of days. The earlier you discuss matters with your lender generally speaking the more favourable they will be to working with you and the business.

Tenant Breaches – if your loan agreement is dependent upon rent from tenants you will need to look carefully at the covenants regarding the income from these tenants not just in terms of financial covenants but also if the loan agreement contains any clauses regarding key tenants and their own financial status, occupancy levels, tenant breaches.

The above are just some of the clauses that are most likely to be relevant and ones which you will need to discuss with your bank. We can help you to identify the relevant clauses, discuss the same with your bank and propose amendments or temporary waivers to ensure your business remains viable and functioning during the pandemic and thereafter.

COVID-19™- 50 trade mark filings from around the world

At the time of writing, there are just short of 50 trade mark filings from around the world, featuring “COVID-19”. The classifications (referred to as NICE – a system of classifying goods and services for the purpose of registering trade marks) range from those you’d likely expect, given the seriousness associated with the COVID-19 situation:

  • class 5 Pharmaceuticals
  • class 9 Scientific Research
  • class 10 Surgical and Medical Apparatus and Instruments

to the more unexpected classifications including:

  • class 13 Firearms, Ammunition and Projectiles
  • class 28 Games
  • class 43 Catering Services

The most popular classification is class 25. Class 25 relates to clothing and so there is the possibility of seeing people wearing “Class of Covid-19” sweatshirts, “Covid-19 Survivor” t-shirts (“Covid-19 Infected” t-shirts, also pending) and baseball caps featuring “I heart Covid-19”- complete with heart and virus emojis, once lockdown is over.

If you are looking to submit a trade mark, it is important to understand that the UK Intellectual Property Office (UK IPO) has absolute grounds for refusing a trade mark registration, including where the proposed trade mark is contrary to public policy or accepted principles of morality. The UK IPO will look beyond what a certain section of the public would likely find distasteful, as distaste is not enough. Each application will be assessed on its own merits, the accepted principles of morality, of course, change with time.

There are also, what are known as relative grounds for refusing a trade mark application, these usually centre around conflicts with existing rights and are normally brought to the attention of the trade mark examiner by third parties (normally existing rights holders), during the opposition stage. It is important that you research your proposed trade mark before commencing with using it and attempting to register it as a trade mark – does someone else have the same or similar trade mark (either already registered, sometimes identified by ® or unregistered, sometimes identified by ™)? Google is a helpful place to start but so are the EUIPO’s trade mark search databases. It is sometimes possible to overcome opposition by narrowing the classifications of the goods and/or services that the proposed trade mark will cover.

There are 45 classifications in total – 34 for goods and 11 for services. You will obviously need to consider the classifications of immediate interest, and not fall into the trap of trying to cover every possible use. You should try to balance clear immediate uses and anticipate realistic future interests.

Registered trade marks are also capable of revocation in the UK, if the trade mark has not been used in the five years following registration and anyone can apply to revoke a trade mark for non-use, although fees do apply to submit a revocation application.

There are potentially many pitfalls in applying for a trade mark, not to mention the time and cost associated with the application process itself. Careful thought should be given to what you intend to trade mark, where the trade mark will be used and what goods and/ or services the trade mark will cover.

In the current COVID-19 situation, the UK IPO office do appear to be processing online applications as normal and subject to the normal time frames. However paper applications are not being processed and the UK IPO asks that digital applications are made. It has also introduced “Interrupted Days” from 24th March, to take into account this unprecedent period and provide a safety net in case of significant disruption. More information can be found here.

Purchasing Assets from a Distressed Seller

We are receiving a number of memoranda of sales from insolvency practitioners, and others, relating to struggling business, referred to as “distressed” or “accelerated sales opportunities”. We are forwarding onto clients who might be interested however many buyers have never purchased a business and/or assets in these circumstances and may be unaware of the key differences between a solvent and insolvent purchase, and the purpose of this article is to set out the key difference.

Timescales

Because of the lack of available cash to fund the trading of a business (and the risk for an administrator in trading a business whilst insolvent) the sale process is usually accelerated and takes between 5-10 days from an offer being accepted to completion, compared to solvent acquisitions which can take months. Time is of the essence and therefore any  potential buyer needs to take a commercial view on the transaction and rely on pragmatic  due diligence which focuses on the key issues at a very high level.

Commercial Risk

Any prospective buyer will be expected to take on any commercial risk associated with the business and assets. The principal “Caveat Emptor” meaning “Buyer Beware” applies,  as any potential buyer will be buying the assets “as seen”  subject to any defects (including defects in title (ownership see below), physical condition or claims by third parties). There will be no party available to give the usual warranty protections around the issues , which would be a big part of a solvent sale.  As a result of this the purchase price is usually discounted to reflect the risks being assumed by a buyer and this can be attractive to potential buyers who are prepared to take a “punt”.

Ongoing Contracts

There are pitfalls for the unwary here –sellers will want buyers to assume responsibility for performing ongoing contracts, even if loss making. Poorly/unreasonably drafted arrangements may fix the buyer with responsibility for  historic product warranties . The right advisor will help you navigate through this minefield.

No Warranties or Title Covenants

Neither the insolvent seller or the appointed insolvency practitioners will offer any warranties or title covenants in relation to the business and/or assets. In addition, a potential buyer will not have the benefit of any title covenants which would usually be implied by the Law of Property (Miscellaneous) Provisions Act 1994 as these are usually specifically excluded. This approach is in complete contrast to a purchase from a solvent seller where the buyer can expect the seller to warrant that it owns the assets, they are in good order and that there are no liabilities and where a buyer can bring a action against the seller if the warranties are untrue.

The risk is always with the buyer in an insolvent acquisition and the insolvency practitioner will always exclude personal responsibility.

Employees

Whether a buyer assumes the employees will depend on whether the seller is in liquidation or administration as the appointment of administrators does not terminate any contracts of employment and therefore the Transfer or Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations 2006 are likely to apply. This could mean employees transfer to the buyer which means the seller’s rights and duties associated with these employees will transfer and become a liability of the buyer. Expert advice is needed to understand the risks in this area, and what can be done to avoid or reduce them.

Stock

Many suppliers incorporate “retention of title” clauses into their terms and conditions of supply. The effect of this is that a buyer may pay good money to a distressed seller to purchase the stock only to find that the seller has no rights in it as the supplier has not been paid and they have a retention over the stock. As a result of this a buyer might be bound to return the stock to the supplier and even worse the buyer might have to indemnify the appointed insolvency practitioners against any claims, they may have made against them resulting in a double loss to the buyer.

A combination of sound commercial judgement and legal knowledge is needed to understand the likely outcome on stock , and the opportunities and risks for the buyer

These are just a few of the key issues which may arise in a distressed purchase however buying a distressed business can have its advantages and be for the commercial benefit of a similar or competitive business,  it is however vital that any potential buyer takes legal advice to avoid risks and protect their position as much as possible.

Emma Pern (email: emma.pern@sintons.co.uk) and Matt Collen (email: matt.collen@sintons.co.uk) in the Corporate team at Sintons regularly act for buyers of distressed business and would be happy to discuss any issues or assist you with any distressed (or solvent) acquisitions. In addition, they have close relationships with a number of insolvency practitioner in the region so if wish to know about any distressed sales in a specific sector please let them know.

Sintons trainee qualifies as corporate solicitor

A young lawyer has secured a permanent role with Sintons having successfully completed her training contract with the firm.

Sophie Townes is now a solicitor in the corporate team, having impressed during her two-year training period at Sintons.

Having taken up positions across the firm during her training, Sophie most recently had a seat in Sintons’ corporate team – named as Corporate and Commercial Team of the Year at the Northern Law Awards 2019 – and has now qualified into a solicitor role within the department.

Sophie will work as part of the highly-esteemed team which acts for businesses across the North East and wider UK and is regularly involved in major regional deals.

Her appointment into a permanent position at Sintons marks the latest example of a trainee successfully building a career with the firm, with several of the firm’s current partners beginning their time at Sintons as trainees.

“During my two years of training, I have been lucky enough to work with some of the leading lawyers in their field regionally and nationally and am delighted to qualify as a solicitor. Sintons has a first-rate reputation for its corporate work and it is fantastic to be able to join the department,” said Sophie.

“This is a time of strong growth for the corporate team and Sintons as a whole, and I am looking forward to working with my corporate colleagues to build our reputation and presence in the marketplace even further.”

Karen Simms, head of corporate and commercial at Sintons, said: “Sophie impressed us hugely during her time in the corporate team – as she did in every seat she held during her training contract – and we are delighted to reward her efforts and enthusiasm with a role in our fast-growing team. As a leading advisor to businesses, we are regularly instructed in many of the region’s most significant corporate transactions and our reputation is second to none.

“Our firm-wide Strategy for Growth centres around the recruitment and retention of excellent people, and the addition of Sophie to our department will support our work greatly.”

Corporate and commercial team expands with appointment of new solicitor

A commercial solicitor with significant experience of working with the North East’s burgeoning tech sector and startup and scaleup community has joined Sintons to help increase its expertise in this field of work.

Charlotte Alexander works widely with startup and scaleup businesses across the region, supporting them with a range of commercial and intellectual property matters, including franchise agreements, terms and conditions, software agreements, copyright and data protection.

She joins Sintons with the additional experience of working in-house in a number of SME businesses and within a PLC, demonstrating the diverse range of clients Charlotte has advised.

Charlotte’s presence in the region’s tech sector is an area of particular strength and continuing growth for Sintons, which has become a leading name in this specialist area of law and acts for increasing numbers of startups and scaleups in the North East. Its high rating and strong reputation in this field has seen it become a partner of TusPark EagleLab Newcastle – the acclaimed incubator space which supports businesses to expand into China – as well as being named premium sponsor of the region’s key event for early-stage entrepreneurs, Newcastle Startup Week.

The arrival of Charlotte marks the latest expansion for Sintons’ corporate and commercial team – named Corporate and Commercial Team of the Year at the Northern Law Awards 2019 – which is seeing strong and ongoing growth, with continuing new client wins underpinned by the addition of new legal talent to the firm.

Karen Simms, head of corporate and commercial at Sintons, said: “We are rightly regarded as one of the most experienced and capable teams of our kind in the North of England, with deep expertise across the whole range of specialist areas within our department. Our work with the tech sector, and advising a number of startup and scaleup businesses within it, has really set us apart and demonstrated our capability in this very niche area.

“Charlotte joins with specialism and experience in a number of areas of commercial work, which is a great fit for the wide-ranging offering of our department. Her background of working in the tech sector is hugely valuable, as few lawyers in the region possess such experience and expertise, and this will add further to the significant capability we already have here at Sintons. We look forward to working with Charlotte as we continue to push on with our ambitious growth plans, confirming our place as a leading specialist advisor to businesses.”

Leading North East leisure operator Vaulkhard Group is expanding after securing a £7m finance deal

The Newcastle hospitality company runs a host of bars and restaurants across the region, including three Barluga venues, the Mushroom Bar, Bealim House and Central Bean coffee shop, and employs more than 280 people.

Last year it also took over the management of The Diamond, in Ponteland, on the same day as it secured its licence for the Gosforth Barluga restaurant and bar.

Now the group is looking to expand further, following the multimillion-pound financing deal with HSBC UK. It was supported by its longstanding legal advisor, Sintons.

The family-run firm, which has Ollie Vaulkhard as managing director, will use the working capital to extend and refurbish some existing venues, while providing the financial support for potential future additions to its 15-strong portfolio.

It has already completed the refurbishments of its Barluga venues in Gosforth and Grey Street, and has also bought a building next to The Diamond to provide accommodation. Development work is also underway at Blake’s on Grey Street.

Chris Welch, partner in the corporate and commercial team at Sintons, has acted for the Vaulkhard family for many years and has overseen the development of its leisure group. He led the team which secured the HSBC funding package.

“Vaulkhard Group is one of the most dynamic and ambitious in the region, which constantly reassesses its portfolio to take advantage of opportunities to take the business further. Its venues enjoy huge popularity and the group continues to invest in their development, to ensure they remain at the forefront of the North East social scene,” he said.

“We are very pleased to again support Ollie and the team with a highly significant transaction for the business, which will help develop this long-standing and highly respected name in the region’s leisure industry even further.”

Electric motor business secures latest round of funding with support from Sintons

A university spin-out based in the North East has completed a funding round for £1.9m, supported by specialist advisors at law firm Sintons.

Advanced Electric Machines (AEM) was established in March 2017 as a spin-out from Newcastle University, and designs and manufactures electric motors and drive technologies for the transport sector.

The new funding takes the total secured in the last year to over £5m. AEM has also secured collaborative research and development projects worth over £16m, starting product development programmes with over 25 organisations including Bentley Motors and CNH International.

The business has recently moved to a new 1,200sq m facility in Washington capable of building 50,000 motors.

After receiving its first large commercial order, AEM is now working on opportunities across four continents and six different sectors including automotive, aerospace, marine and energy.

The latest funding round was led by Northstar Ventures, which has invested £750k from the North East Innovation Fund, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, and will support the next phase of growth. Specialist advisors at law firm Sintons acted for AEM on the investment.

Professor James Widmer, chief executive of AEM, said: “This latest investment raised almost 60 per cent additional capital above the original target, it will allow AEM to invest in our design and manufacturing capability more quickly than we expected.

“We are grateful to Northstar, Saker, Tevva and the many small investors who are now supporting us in our vision of manufacturing the most sustainable electric motor technologies on the planet here in the UK.”

Adrian Dye, partner in the corporate and commercial team at Sintons, advised AEM.

“AEM are a hugely dynamic and ambitious business with great potential and this latest round of funding will help them achieve their next level of development. This is an exciting phase for the business and we are delighted to continue to be able to support them,” he said.

Alex Buchan, investment manager at Northstar Ventures added: “Electrification is a key enabler for many sectors and we have real strength in the technologies that will drive it here in the region.

“We are pleased to be able to support one of the UK’s rising stars in electric motor design and manufacture and help them create jobs in the North East.”

Young people’s residential care provider set for growth through acquisition

A specialist provider of residential care and education for young people has secured finance for further roll-out of its services following its acquisition.

Pebbles Care, which operates 41 residential care homes and four schools across the North of England and Scotland, has been purchased by Ardenton Capital Corporation.

Founded in 2003 by director Luiz Guilherme, the business – which is headquartered in Leeds and Dunfermline – has grown into one of the leading providers of its kind, working with hundreds of vulnerable young people to offer them a stepping stone to a brighter future.

Manchester-based Ardenton will work closely with Pebbles’ management team, with the investment set to support Pebbles in its roll-out of services.

Sintons acted for Mr Guilherme in the deal and completed the sale, in a transaction led by corporate partner Adrian Dye, with support from Jonathan Tutu and Sophie Townes. The law firm is known on a national basis for its work within the care sector and acts for many major operators.

“The Pebbles Group has been providing outstanding childcare for more than 16 years, so it was crucial that we found an investor who believed in maintaining the values that have made the group successful,” said Mr Guilherme.

“Ardenton’s strategy of a long-term investment model will ensure that the Pebbles Group continues to flourish and grow as a national preferred provider.”

Adrian Dye said: “Pebbles has worked with countless young people over the years, building its presence during that time across the North of England and Scotland to become regarded as a real leader in its field. It is a reflection on the dedication and vision of Luiz Guilherme that his business has been acquired in this way, and has secured the funding to take it to the next level.

“Sintons is recognised as a leading advisor to owner-managed businesses across the North of England and beyond, with particular specialism in advising the care sector, and we are very pleased to have been instructed by Luiz on this matter and to have supported him with its successful completion.”

Iain Marlow, director at Ardenton, added: “It’s a privilege to be working alongside the Pebbles Care management team to support the invaluable work the business does looking after some of the most vulnerable young people in society.

“Our investment will enable the team to invest further into the quality of their care provision and expand their services to provide more capacity.”

Highly-rated corporate and commercial team “know their stuff”

Sintons’ corporate and commercial team has won further praise for its capability and quality of client service in new rankings from Chambers 2020, which again confirms the law firm as a leading advisor in its field.

Chambers hails Sintons as being a firm “who know their stuff” and works widely in areas including mergers and acquisitions, insolvency, restructuring and corporate finance, with a fast-growing presence in tech.

The rankings from Chambers come only shortly after the publication of similar findings from Legal 500 2019, and the team being named as corporate and commercial team of the year at the Northern Law Awards 2019.

Lucy Carlin, senior associate and one of the region’s leading tech lawyers, is again named as an Associate to Watch in recognition of her vast potential in her specialist area.

Corporate partners Chris Welch, Matt Collen and Adrian Dye are also praised for their work and client service, and are named as notable practitioners in this area.

Chris is said to be “very good at client care and very attentive” and is recognised for his broad expertise and the deals he has completed in the healthcare and leisure sectors. Matt, a M&A and private equity specialist, is praised for being “very commercial…he has a wide range of skills and knowledge”.

Adrian – recently shortlisted as corporate lawyer of the year at North East Dealmakers – wins further praise for his strong focus on private equity fundraising and exits, and for being “a very good lawyer who is well established with a sophisticated client base in the region”.

Mark Quigley, managing partner of Sintons, said: “Our growing corporate and commercial team is widely regarded as one of the leaders in the North of England, with a client base that extends across the UK, and to have further endorsement of our work from Chambers 2020 is a very pleasing and rightful recognition of our efforts.

“These latest strong rankings, which echo the findings of Legal 500 alongside being named as team of the year at the Northern Law Awards, are testament to the fact that Sintons is a strong and growing presence in this field and a highly-rated trusted advisor to so many clients regionally and nationally.”

Banking and finance team hailed for capability and client service

The banking and finance team at Sintons has won further endorsement of its capability and client service from Chambers 2020.

The independent legal rankings name Sintons as one of the leading advisors in this area in the North East, with a “strong reputation”, particularly in real estate finance matters.

The team acts for both lenders and borrowers in banking and finance transactions, and is hailed for its wide range of clients from the banking, retail and hospitality sectors. One client testimonial said that Sintons “has been excellent in terms of the service they’ve provided and the advice given”.

Jane Meikle, head of banking and finance at Sintons, is named as an Up and Coming lawyer, in recognition of her achievement to date and significant potential.

The Chambers rankings come only shortly after the team won similar praise from Legal 500, which also praised the quality of its legal advice and outstanding client-focused service.

Mark Quigley, managing partner of Sintons, said: “Our banking and finance team has made great strides in recent years to build on its strong reputation and achieve new levels of growth, and we are very pleased this has again received independent recognition from Chambers 2020. The deep levels of expertise we have here, combined with an excellent client service, make Sintons an advisor of choice in this very specialist area and we are delighted this is being recognised.”

Banking team hailed for expertise by Legal 500 2019

The banking team at Sintons has been praised by Legal 500 2019 for its experience and capability, with its work in real estate finance hailed as “a real area of expertise”.

The team, noted for being “available, helpful and supportive”, acts for a range of banking sector lenders and borrowers, including commercial landlords, and is regularly instructed in many major multi-million pound transactions, often in transactions with national significance.

It is hailed as being particularly strong in real estate finance, education and healthcare, the latter of which Sintons is described as being “one of the most knowledgeable firms in this sector”.

Jane Meikle, head of banking at Sintons, is praised for her “significant experience” in real estate borrower work and in acting for lenders.

Partner David Ferguson also wins plaudits in this area, with one testimonial describing Jane and David as being “first class”.

Sintons has a longstanding reputation for its capability in its banking and real estate finance work, but its development as part of Sintons’ Strategy for Growth has seen strong gains made in recent times.

Mark Quigley, managing partner of Sintons, said: “Our banking and finance team has made great strides in recent years to build on its strong reputation and really drive that forward. Jane and her team are doing a superb job in growing the department and our continued involvement in major transactions is testament to that. These rankings from Legal 500 2019 are rightful recognition of the excellent work that is being done and the outstanding client service that is being delivered in this very specialist area.”

Sintons hailed for strength throughout corporate and commercial department

The specialist corporate and commercial team at Sintons has again been hailed as one of the key advisors in the North of England, with Legal 500 2019 praising its capability in the full spectrum of matters.

The team was hailed for its strength in key areas including mergers and acquisitions, buyouts, private equity, solvent and insolvent reorganisations and corporate finance, with Legal 500 pointing to its work in healthcare, life sciences and leisure as being of particular strength.

The department – winner of best corporate and commercial team at the Northern Law Awards 2019 – also wins praise for its capability in the niche areas of data protection and cybersecurity.

Legal 500 – a wholly independent assessment of law firms and lawyers based on examples of work, interviews and client and peer testimonials – hails the team for being “friendly and very approachable” and “very knowledgeable and quick to respond to queries”.

Karen Simms, head of corporate and commercial, is again named as a leading individual by Legal 500 and is highlighted for her “significant experience” in the complex areas of energy and waste management. She is also noted for her ability to “always remain calm during pressured situations”.

Senior associate Emma Pern is again hailed as a rising star, noted for her work in “complex transactions”.

Other recommended lawyers in this area include partners Christopher Welch, Matt Collen, Adrian Dye and senior associate Chloe Dinsdale.

Mark Quigley, managing partner of Sintons, said: “Our corporate and commercial team is widely regarded as one of the leaders in the North of England, with a client base that extends across the UK, and to have further endorsement of our work from Legal 500 2019 is very pleasing. The fact we are highlighted for excellence in so many areas of corporate and commercial work is testament to our strength and capability in this area, and to have a number of our key people recommended is further endorsement of our presence in this field.

“Our corporate and commercial department plays a central role in the delivery of our Strategy for Growth, and great strides have been made in the continuing development of this key area of the business, alongside the addition of a number of excellent new lawyers to the team. These latest strong rankings from Legal 500 add to our recent success at the Northern Law Awards in showing that Sintons is a strong and growing presence in this field and a highly-rated trusted advisor to so many clients regionally and nationally.”

Ask the Expert – Maximising value through share incentives

Whether you are a start up business, scaling up or a mature business, a vital question for any business owner is how best to retain and incentivise key management.

In many companies the success of the business and its ability to grow is dependent on the management team as a whole and is rarely reliant solely on its owners.  Key managers play a significant role in delivering a successful business plan and maximising value for shareholders.

It is therefore essential that the senior management team is properly incentivised to ensure they are fully invested in the business and to unlock their full potential.  Using the equity in the business through a share incentive scheme can be a very effective tool to reward and retain key employees whilst also helping to drive the value of the business.

Why use a share scheme

Share schemes can have the following benefits to the business and its shareholders:

  1. Incentivise employees to grow the business. Particularly, if the business is looking to scale up, share schemes can act as a powerful incentive to drive growth.
  2. Incentivise employees to achieve an exit. The employees’ interests are then more aligned with the shareholders to maximise value on exit.
  3. Retention of key employees. Share schemes can be created so the value to the employee is only realised if the employee remains with the business long term or until an exit.
  4. Attracting employees. The tax benefits of certain share schemes are attractive to new employees.  Start up businesses can use schemes to offer value in the future where cash flow perhaps does not support higher salaries or traditional cash bonus incentives.
  5. Share schemes are tax efficient for the employee and the company.
  6. Succession planning. Share schemes can be used to tie in a management team with a view to a management buy out or similar succession plans in the future.

What type of share schemes are available?

There are many share schemes available to be able to allow employees to participate in equity such as share options (approved or unapproved), growth share schemes, share incentive plans or phantom share schemes.  Certain schemes can benefit large numbers of employees but the main focus for SMEs and owner managed businesses should be to identify a small number of people critical to the success of the business.

In order to select which scheme is suitable for any business, the shareholders will need to consider their short and long term objectives and what value is to be provided to the employees through any scheme.

If the company is a start up or early stage business for example, the scheme may be designed so that share options are granted from the outset on terms that the employee only benefits from a percentage of the overall value if there is an exit.   For more mature businesses, which already have a significant value, the share scheme may be designed to provide a percentage of the growth value above the current value of the business.  This type of scheme focusses on the ability of the employee to be able to scale up the business and be rewarded for successfully driving that growth.

Common with all schemes is that the existing shareholders are giving up part of their equity and this should not be given away lightly.

Options are not suitable for all individuals and the employee must see the potential reward for this to act as a true incentive.  There is no point giving away a slice of equity if this does not have the effect of driving growth or achieving the aims of the scheme – for example, if the employees never think that a sale is likely a share option giving them a financial reward on a sale is not going to be much of an incentive.

Tailoring the share scheme

Share schemes, and particularly share options, are very flexible and may be tailored to the specific role certain employees play in the business.  Ways in which you can tailor the scheme include:

  1. Setting performance conditions so the value of the share option is only realised once those conditions are satisfied by the employee, that person’s team or the company as a whole.
  2. Granting options so the employee only receives shares if there is an exit or sale. – effectively “golden handcuffs” with the added benefit that departing employees lose their rights to shares automatically if they leave prior to sale rather than the more cumbersome method of having to buy back shares
  3. Granting options that are only exercisable after a certain length of service.
  4. Options can be exercised ahead of a sale to allow employees to participate in dividends.

One of the advantages of granting options instead of employees holding shares is that if the employee leaves the option falls away without any action required.  Options can then be granted to another existing employee or used to attract a replacement.

Tax Benefits

Shares cannot be simply given to employees without significant tax consequences for the employee.  However, there are several tax advantaged schemes available to structure the issue of shares or grant options which avoid these tax consequences.

EMI Options, for example, are a very popular scheme and offer several tax advantages to the employee and the company.   If set up correctly and the qualifying criteria are met, the options and value derived from the sale of option shares is tax efficient for the employees.  There will be no or little income tax and the employee will pay capital gains tax in the same way as the remaining shareholders, also potentially benefitting from entrepreneurs’ relief.

Share incentives are a great way to retain and incentivise employees and we have assisted many companies to design and set up successful incentive schemes.

If you are considering setting up a scheme or would like to know more I would delighted to discuss with you and share my experience.  For more information please contact Adrian Dye at Sintons LLP on 0191 226 7800 or adrian.dye@sintons.co.uk.

(Sintons has been shortlisted in two categories of the North East Dealmakers Awards 2019, named as a finalist in Corporate Law Firm of the Year, and Partner Adrian Dye has securing a shortlisting for Corporate Lawyer of the Year.)

This article featured on Insider Media on the 8th August 2019. 

Double Dealmakers shortlisting for Sintons

Law firm Sintons has been shortlisted in two categories of the North East Dealmakers Awards 2019.  

Sintons has been named as a finalist in Corporate Law Firm of the Year, and Partner Adrian Dye has securing a shortlisting for Corporate Lawyer of the Year.  

The Newcastle-based law firm is widely recognised as one of the regions leading corporate advisers, and regularly acts in many of the most significant deals in the North East and beyond.  

Over the past year, Sintons has again completed a host of major high-profile transactions, with some recent examples including the rescue of one of the regions oldest retail brands, The Pen Shop, from administration; the acquisition of Team Valley-based TDX by an Italian counterpart; and the acquisition of car sharing pioneer Cowheels by a major European car sharing club.  

Adrian has been shortlisted in recognition of his expertise in completing many major transactions over the past year, as well as his client-focused approach and commitment to securing the best outcome for them. Many of his clients have been with Sintons for many years, which is indicative of the quality of advice and service Adrian and the team offer.  

Dealmakers, run by Insider Media, are highly-esteemed annual awards which recognise and reward the outstanding work of individuals and organisations within the corporate sphere in the North East. The winners are decided by an independent judging panel of leading names within the North East business community, and are revealed at a dinner on Thursday, September 26, at the Hilton NewcastleGateshead.  

Karen Simms, head of the corporate and commercial team, at Sintons, said: For many years, we have been rightly regarded as one of the leading corporate advisors in the North East and beyond for the depth of expertise and capability we have here, and our ability to advise on the most complex of matters which often require completion against the tightest of deadlines. We have the breadth of specialist knowledge at Sintons that few can rival, which is why we are the trusted long-standing advisor to so many clients, and the reason we are regularly instructed to act in many of the biggest deals in the North East.  

We have a deserved reputation as one of the leaders in our field, and we are delighted this has again been recognised through our shortlisting as Corporate Law Firm of the Year at Dealmakers 2019, and Adrian being named as a finalist in his own right is further evidence of the strength we have here at Sintons. 

Physio snapped up by national group

A Newcastle physiotherapy has been acquired by a national group.

Balmoral Physiotherapy, which is based on Station Road in South Gosforth, has been sold to Therapy Direct Healthcare.

Gateshead-based Therapy Direct Healthcare provides a range of private physiotherapy, occupational physiotherapy and corporate services.

Managing director Ross Tomkins said: “We’re thrilled. Balmoral gives us a larger presence in the North East.

“We can employ more people in the area and help more businesses that are based here, offering their teams top healthcare that’s designed especially for them.

“We’ve always been well-known for our patient-centred approach to care. The team at South Gosforth is highly talented and we’re excited to welcome them into our growing portfolio of health businesses.”

The acquisition was conducted through wesellanycompany.com, the business buying platform established by North East corporate finance adviser Barry Gill.

Within 12 hours of posting the advert, two interested buyers contacted the website, one of whom was Ross.

Gill added: “We’re careful to use targeted social media marketing and an active approach to our finding the right buyers.

“Ross responded to the Balmoral Physiotherapy advert and he met with the vendors within a week to discuss the sale.”

Legal advice on the deal was provided by Adrian Dye and Luke Philpott from Sintons LLP.

Featured in Insider Media 12/6/19.

The Pen Shop bought from administration

The biggest luxury pen retailer in Europe has been bought from administration by its long-standing chief executive, in a move that will protect 40 jobs across the UK and will support the continued growth of its online operation.

The Pen Shop, which has been in business since 1858, called in administrators after falling victim to the increasingly tough high street conditions which are forcing retailers to battle against rising rents and rates while footfall continues to decrease.

Colin McClymont, who bought The Pen Shop in an MBO in 2014, has now stepped in again to become owner of the esteemed brand, having been at the helm of the business for over 30 years.

The Pen Shop Trading Limited, owned by Mr McClymont and his wife Sally, has bought the iconic brand and pledged to continue their significant investment in the business to help it weather the retail storm and emerge stronger.

However, while the deal has safeguarded the future of five of the retailer’s 10 stores nationwide – in Newcastle’s Eldon Square, Birmingham, Manchester’s Trafford Centre, Glasgow and the T&G Allan store in Morpeth – the remaining shops will close.

Stores in Leeds, Manchester’s King Street, Edinburgh, Cardiff and two in London have not been saved, with several closing down last weekend. Twenty jobs have been lost as a result.

The Pen Shop, based in Morpeth – which began life as T&G Allan, named after brothers Thomas and George Allan, who opened their first shop on Newcastle’s Collingwood Street – is now beginning a new generation for the business, with a reduced high street presence but renewed energy from its owners to grow the brand.

Mr McClymont said: “We are absolutely committed to taking The Pen Shop forward as a leaner, fitter, more healthy business which is in good shape for the future. Our online store is doing very well and we will be channelling efforts into growing that further still. This business has been trading since 1858, I have been its chief executive for over 30 years, and that is too much to give up without giving it absolutely everything we’ve got.

“The conditions on the high street in the recent past have become hugely challenging, with rents, rates and service charges becoming unrealistically high over the years, and we are seeing how it is affecting everyone, even the huge retailers. Against a backdrop of the enormous shift we have seen towards online shopping and away from the high street, it becomes very difficult to continue without making changes to the traditional operation.

“As a company, we have always prided ourselves on the fact that more than 70 per cent of staff in our business are long-serving. The fact we are now having to make some of these redundant is something we deeply regret, it is no reflection on these exceptionally loyal and bright people who have enriched our business, they could not have done more.

“We have confidence in the business and the brand, and are grateful for the support we have had from our staff and suppliers during what has been a very difficult time.”

Law firm Sintons, long-standing advisors to The Pen Shop, supported Mr and Mrs McClymont in their purchase, with Partner Adrian Dye and Senior Associate Emma Pern completing the deal.

Adrian Dye said: “As the long-standing advisor to The Pen Shop, we are very pleased to be able to complete this deal for Colin and Sally. Colin has dedicated so much of his career and his life to building the business and its brand and it is great news that it has been safeguarded. Despite the many ongoing challenges for retailers, The Pen Shop is now in great shape and its online presence is growing strongly. We wish Colin and Sally the very best for the future and look forward to continuing to work with them.”

Chris Ferguson, joint head of Recovery & Insolvency at Newcastle-based RMT Accountants & Business Advisors, and joint administrator for The Pen Shop, commented “We are delighted to have concluded this sale which preserves both The Pen Shop and T&G Allan businesses going forward and safeguards the employment of 40 employees associated with the ongoing venture.   The current climate is extremely challenging for retailers, but both brands are long-established and synonymous with high-end pen and stationery products, and the sale will ensure they maintain their high street and online retail presence for the future.”

Sintons shortlisted in six categories of Northern Law Awards

Law firm Sintons has been recognised for the strength and growth it has seen across the firm by being shortlisted in six categories of the prestigious Northern Law Awards.

Newcastle-based Sintons has been rewarded for all six submissions it made for this year’s awards with shortlistings in the following categories:

  • Firm of the year (6+ partners)
  • Team of the year – Family
  • Team of the year – Personal Injury
  • Team of the year – Litigation and dispute resolution
  • Team of the year – Corporate/commercial
  • Team of the year – Private client.

The multiple shortlistings follow double success for Sintons at last year’s Northern Law Awards, at which the firm won awards for Team of the year – Property/residential, and marketing manager David Pritchard won the Law Practice Management title.

The Northern Law Awards, now in their fourth year, celebrate and acknowledge the very best of legal excellence, talent and success across the North of England. The winners will be revealed at an awards ceremony in June, and will be chosen by an independent judging panel after interviews with all shortlisted firms and candidates.

Mark Quigley, managing partner of Sintons, said: “We are delighted to be shortlisted six times in this year’s Northern Law Awards – indeed in every category we entered – which helps to demonstrate the outstanding levels of capability and expertise we have here and the continuing progress we are making as a firm.

“Our Strategy for Growth has seen us strengthen departments throughout the firm and make a number of key additions to our team, and we are now starting to reap the rewards of these efforts through the strong levels of growth we are seeing.

“The Northern Law Awards are a highly-respected endorsement of legal capability and excellence and we are proud to once again be shortlisted.”