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Selling your business

When the Board family started to think about succession plans and exit, they did so with plenty of time in hand. 

They engaged Watersheds to join them on that journey, to add value and ensure the best outcome and maximum value.

As Michael Board retired in 2005, he passed his printing business to son, Ian.  Ian transformed Bex Design & Print, and the business became a market leader in printing graphic overlays and membrane switches.  Over a decade later, the family decided that a longer-term succession plan was needed, including an eventual exit for Ian.  Through the company’s corporate lawyer, the family were introduced to Watersheds to advise on their options, and how to implement them.

It was clear, as with many family-owned businesses, that Ian was a key contact for staff, customers, and suppliers.  As a result, the business was reliant on him.  However, Ian had nurtured a strong culture of quality and customer service within the business, and Bex had invested heavily in the development of its employees.  It already had a strong management team waiting in the wings.

A sale didn’t need to happen immediately; Ian was still young.  He needed to make a capital gain that reflected the effort and risk he’d taken on over the years. 

Based on Watersheds’ advice, he moved forward with promoting the second-tier management that he had nurtured and took a step back from the day to day running of the business, relinquishing his role as Managing Director, and working part time.  Also under Watersheds’ guidance, he started the process of formalising contracts and improving the financial reporting of the business.

To sell for the best price, it was imperative to allow sufficient time to demonstrate that the financial performance of the business could be maintained with the new management in place. 

Bex flourished under the new management structure.  This gave buyers comfort that the profits of the business were sustainable, with or without Ian.

For buyers, it is equally important that changes are genuinely implemented and have substance.  For instance, the seller will not be able to persuade a buyer that they have handed control to their management team if they continue to micro-manage the business, and produce a business card with the title “Managing Director” on it.

This careful preparation and patience were worth it in the end.  The business attracted numerous buyers, allowing the family to choose the one that best suited them, the staff and the Company’s loyal customers and suppliers.

Ian agreed: “Having spent decades building a successful business, our family wanted to make sure that succession planning was in place to ensure the firm’s next iteration was a positive one.  Watersheds found out what was important to us, took time to understand our niche services, and what would appeal best to a range of potential buyers who would be a good fit.”

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For more information call us on Northampton 01604 660511 or Swindon 01793 719788 or Crawley 01293 804514

For more information call us on Northampton 01604 660511 or Swindon 01793 719788 or Crawley 01293 804514