TaxAssist Accountants in sale talks

ONE OF THE UK’s largest accounting franchisors has been in sale talks, with franchisees considering its purchase, Accountancy Age can reveal.

TaxAssist Accountants, 26th in the Accountancy Age Top 50 survey of firms with £24.5m in fee income, has been exploring a sale. It operates through 239 outlets, with 163 fully-branded shop front premises.

Karl Sandall, its chief executive, said that it had been in “a number of discussions”, including talks with both its franchisees and other interested parties, although a deal has not been struck. Its latest accounts, for the y/e 31 December 2013, showed network turnover at £27.2m, with an adjusted profit of £1.1m.

Sandall said: “Our founder, John Westgarth, will only consider a sale if it enhances the successful TaxAssist Accountants brand and adds value to our continued growth in the UK and internationally.

“It will not affect our network of nearly 200 franchisees and our nearly 48,000 small business customers where it is business as usual.”

TaxAssist’s current executives are looking to stay on with the business, while Westgarth would retire following a sale. Sandall indicated that the business would like to complete the sale in the short-term, “a matter of months”.

TaxAssist was founded in 1995 by Westgarth, and has seen the franchise spread across the UK and Ireland. It recently added a Canadian franchisee, and has plans to grow in north America, New Zealand and Australia.

Westgarth is an ICAEW-qualified accountant who has built up and sold a number of practices from the mid-1970s to mid-1990s. He serves as TaxAssist’s chairman.

 

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