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Owner managed businesses

As an owner managed business, we are able to anticipate and understand the full range of issues faced by business owners and offer comprehensive solutions.

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Owner managed businesses are a key part of the UK economy and a highly valued component of our own client base.

We are an OMB ourselves and understand the issues that business owners face. We recognise the particular needs of the Owner Managed Business sector for pragmatic advice that respects the separate but often linked needs of individual business owners and those of their businesses.

Our clients range from tech startups to high growth entrepreneur-driven companies and mature family businesses that have been through generational ownership change.

We believe that all clients deserve a service that is technically excellent, commercial, pragmatic and delivered in jargon-free style.

Our commercial and private client lawyers work as one team to provide a service that brings our specialisms together to offer advice and solutions that fully address your concerns. As a full-service law firm, we are able to anticipate and understand the full range of issues faced by business owners and offer comprehensive solutions.

We advise business owners and those funders and professionals that support them on:

  • Startups (funding, shareholders agreements, service agreement, mentoring owners)
  • Attracting and retaining staff (HR advice, share schemes and bonus arrangements)
  • Managing supply chains (conditions of sale, long-term supply contracts, procurement advice, agency and distribution arrangements, joint ventures and export sales)
  • Equity investments and funding (from venture capital houses, banks, grant agencies) and getting a business ready for investment
  • Regulatory compliance (health and safety, environmental, data protection etc.)
  • Tax efficient group structures and personal ownership models
  • Wealth management and will and estate planning
  • Business and share purchases
  • Succession planning
    • Sales to co-owners and advice regarding cross option life insurance arrangements.
    • In single family companies, will the family be willing and able to take the business on?
    • Drafting Family Charters and creating Family Investment Company structures.
    • Management buyouts where family succession is not an option
    • Trade sale and exits to VC
  • Disputes and litigation (commercial disputes, cyber, debt recovery, defamation and reputation management)

Whilst we are a national firm, we have strong commercial and private client teams in all our locations able to bring their local knowledge and relationships to bear in support of your business needs and aspirations.

We support business owners not just through the way in which we deliver our services but also:

  • By our commercially sensitive approach to pricing, particularly for startups and early-stage growth companies
  • In the packaging of fixed price services such as our HR Rely service and our debt recovery service
  • Through the management support, such as personal mentoring to individual owners and collective boardroom training on core regulatory and risk and compliance issues
  • In the relationships we help to foster on behalf of our clients with potential customers, suppliers, advisors and funders.

'In conversation with…'

A series of interviews in which we sit down with and talk in-depth to clients about the impact of Coronavirus on their business, the steps they've taken to adjust their business to lockdown, how they're addressing the recovery phase of the pandemic and what impact it had on their long-term plans for their business.

In conversation with Mark Haydock, Managing Director, edp

In conversation with Brian Fulton, Director of Finance & Operations at Hold Fast Entertainment

In conversation with Jonathan Koslover, Managing Director at Manchester Fertility

In conversation with Andy Pilley, BES Utilities

In conversation with Camerons Brewery Limited

  • In conversation with Camerons Brewery Limited

    As part of our “Weightmans in conversation" series, partner Duncan Reid spoke to John Foots, Finance Director at Camerons Brewery Limited.

    This is a regular interview series where we talk with our clients about the impact of Coronavirus on their business; the steps they've taken to adjust their business to lockdown; how they're addressing the recovery phase of the pandemic; and what impact it has had on their long-term plans for their business.

    This interview took place on 31 July 2020

    Can you give me a bit of background about your business; for example, what you do, where you are based and how many people do you employ?

    • Beer Manufacturing (brew, bottle & can)
    • Own & operate 80 public houses
    • Sell our own beer brands into on trade & off trade sectors
    • Number of staff:
    • Brewery & head office: 120
    • Pubs: 480

    How has your business fared since the Coronavirus pandemic hit the UK?

    We were significantly impacted, as all pubs were closed from 23 March and brewing levels were 20% of what they were pre-COVID.

    What steps did you take to adjust your business to the lock-down restrictions and the changes that these brought about?

    The following steps were taken:

    1. 560 out of 600 staff furloughed – this was well received by our employees
    2. Directors & senior management have taken substantial pay cuts
    3. We applied for and received a CBILS loan – this was a frustratingly slow process
    4. We liaised with respective HMRC departments on time to pay; we found HMRC very receptive
    5. We negotiated extended credit terms with our supplier chain – being as fair as we can, and not under undue pressure at the minute
    6. We negotiated time to pay and rent waivers with our landlords – some encouraging communication/agreements with several our landlords
    7. We kept regular communication with customers and debtors and are overall being managed very well
    8. Accelerating where possible other funding routes available to us, in addition to CLBILS
      • Disposals – have three property sales with lawyers and progress being made despite COVID
      • Asset purchase – we arranged funding on the sale & leaseback of our kegs
    9. We claimed grants on some of our properties where we are eligible to do so, and managed to claim c£250k in grants (at ether the £10k or £25k levels) on some of our managed properties

    In relation to your staff, how have you maintained engagement, welfare and productivity? Have you accessed the government’s furloughing scheme? If so, how easy has that been to access and how has your work-force reacted? Have you needed to take other steps in relation to your workforce, such as salary reductions/deferrals, job losses, recruitment freezes?

    As mentioned above, this process has worked extremely well:

    1. 560 employees furloughed
    2. Short turnaround from paying out to recovering monies from government (about a week)
    3. Ensured regular communication
    4. Senior management pay cuts
    5. Annual pay freeze

    What engagement have you managed with your other stakeholders in the business, such as suppliers, landlords, customers and funders and how have they reacted? Are there any specific things that have worked well and others that have not worked so well?

    Overall, things have been very positive:

    • Landlords – most understanding and have accepted
      • Rent free period
      • Some of rent waived
      • Time to pay
    • Suppliers – most supportive and understanding and prepared to enter time to pay agreements
    • Funders – bank are supportive however, although finally obtained, the CLBILS process was frustrating.

    As the lock-down has been eased in recent weeks and pubs have been allowed to re-open for business in England, what plans have you made for your business for the next phase? What risks do you foresee in your business beginning a return to work and how are you managing those risks?

    • We must remain as lean as we can and maximise our flexibility to cope with the unexpected !
    • We have opened 90% of our outlets but may not open the remaining 10% for several months
    • We continue to see promising signs by picking up new bottling and canning business
    • We are constantly monitoring performance in our recent opened outlets and may decide to close a couple if trade doesn’t pick up
    • Cash will remain king and therefore we will tread very carefully on capex and be very watchful on working capital management
    • We are aware that getting people back into a work environment from an extended furlough period will be a challenge for some and we are therefore ensuring we can remain flexible when it comes to work from home / office balance

    How do you see your business and sector adapting in the future and what changes do you foresee having to make, whether with your staff, supply chain or customers? What opportunities, if any, do you see coming out of the challenges created by the Coronavirus outbreak?

    • We have realised we can manage in a ‘leaner’ way
    • Some of the team can work from home much more
    • We have noticed opportunities to help other brewers consolidate their production network
    • There is the opportunity to develop more of our outside areas and provide more take-away services
    • Our biggest challenge is how we do get consumers happy and comfortable to return to pubs and how can we commercially make that work

    What support, whether from government or elsewhere, do you think you will need over the coming months to help get your business back up and running to its full potential.

    What the government has provided to date has been fantastic for our industry, such as the furlough scheme, VAT deferral, other HMRC deferrals, Rateable Vale grants, legislation to prevent landlord action on unpaid rent, etc.

    What more can be done:

    • Extend furlough scheme
    • Look for a national rent-free scheme to be put in place

    Have the last few months changed your long-term plans and, if so, in what way?

    The main aim has been survival, as the future was uncertain before COVID and now is very uncertain. Longer term we will be more highly geared and that may move us to have a fundamental strategic review of how we take the business forward.

In conversation with Chris Cassidy, Cassidy Financial Solutions

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