Is this the end of the one-day shuffle?

A company can change its accounting reference date (‘period end’) by giving notice to shorten its accounting reference period.  In doing so, subject to certain exceptions, Companies House grants up to an additional three months to file the company’s accounts, based on the date of the notice.  This extension was designed to prevent a situation where shortening a period resulted in late delivery and the directors being in immediate default.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy issued a consultation earlier this year with a view to enhancing the role of Companies House and increasing the transparency of UK companies.  As part of this consultation, they have noted that some companies take advantage of this extended filing deadline by shortening their period end multiple times, reducing their accounting period by one day, in order to gain additional time to file their accounts (the “one-day shuffle”).

The consultation document states that “this is contrary to the intended spirit of the provision and is a cause for complaint by users of the register.  Misuse of this mechanism results in no financial information being available for companies over an extended period.  This may be an indication that a company is experiencing financial difficulties or has some other reason to conceal the extent of its assets and liabilities.”

The proposal is to implement a limit to the number of times a company can shorten its accounting reference date, such that the regulations retain the flexibility in allowing companies to shorten their accounting period, but prevent companies from abusing this when the reason is solely the desire for an extension to their filing date.

The consultation closed on 5th August 2019 and the feedback is currently being analysed. 

For those companies that currently adopt this ‘practice’, going forward it is possible (likely) that this loophole will be closed or significantly curtailed.  Therefore, companies will need to plan to have their accounts available for filing by their regular filing date.

For more information on this topic please contact our Corporate Services Director Paul Spencer

Optician firm focuses on succession and growth

Optician chain David H Myers has completed two significant deals as part of a succession planning strategy that has introduced new blood to the management team, while developing the business.

The chain, which operates branches in Southport, Penwortham, Leeds, Churchtown, and Lytham, sold a substantial minority stake in its Churchtown branch to Rob Lowther, who already owned a major shareholding in the Penwortham practice.

The deal will see Rob taking on management responsibilities for operations in Churchtown, in addition to his ongoing role in Penwortham.

In a second transaction, incoming director Paul Jones has acquired a minority stake in the Lytham practice from each of the owners, David Myers and Ian Brooker.

The Lytham deal will enable Paul to work with Ian to drive the ongoing expansion of the Lytham business.

David, who founded the business in 1979, said: “These two transactions are pivotal to our succession planning and growth strategy. The first deal allows Rob to take on a remit for managing our Churchtown practice as well as his role at Penwortham, while the second means Paul will step up at Lytham to assist Ian in a management role that will enable the further development of the branch.

“Just as importantly, the two deals will generate resources to fuel our ongoing expansion programme and we are currently in discussions with owner-managers of optician practices regarding potential acquisitions.”

David H Myers has received corporate finance, transaction services, tax and succession planning advice from the Preston team at accounts MHA Moore and Smalley.

Partner Damian Walmsley commented: “David H Myers is a successful and ambitious optician business that is managing to implement effective succession planning, while also developing the management team and creating sufficient resources to continue its expansion programme. I have every confidence that the business will continue to succeed.

David Myers added: “We have been working with the team at MHA Moore and Smalley for many years and have been consistently impressed by their friendly, yet professional approach and willingness to truly understand our business and its needs going forward.”

Open Banking Changes within Quickbooks

Open Banking regulations have been introduced in the UK.

In line with these regulations, QuickBooks is upgrading its bank feeds. Existing connections will be switched off and replaced with a more stable process which will give you a better experience.

Once these new feeds are ready, we’ll ask you to log in into QuickBooks and authorise the new feeds. This will allow your data to keep flowing into QuickBooks without interruption.

The new feeds will give you more control, improving the process and making it more secure.

Please note, for security reasons, the connection will need to be re-authorised every 90 days. If you have further questions about Open Banking, you can find more information on this FAQ on the link HERE

What makes an acquisition successful?

A survey conducted earlier this year by Deloitte in the USA of corporate and private equity executives ranked effective integration as the single most important factor leading to a successful transaction (23% of respondents).

Integrating two businesses after an acquisition is often more challenging than bringing the deal to fruition. Many acquisitions fail to add value, or can destroy it, because the purchaser is not properly prepared for “what happens next”.  Achieving completion may often feel like the end point has been reached – but in fact what it really means is that you are only on the start line.

It is essential to prepare for integration well ahead of completion. This means identifying urgent tasks that should be set out in a detailed action plan and set in motion before the ink is dry on the contract. The first 100 days after completion are critical. This is the formative period during which you can accomplish early wins, while laying firm foundations for the future. 

There may be cultural differences between the businesses which will need to be overcome. It is important to keep your existing team motivated, while bringing in new people who may be used to a different way of doing things. Personal tensions, uncertainties and misunderstandings can lead to lost productivity.

Clear communications with all stakeholders must be a key part of the integration process. Customers, employees, investors, suppliers, and even, perhaps, the local community need to understand what the acquisition means for them.

The importance of sound leadership at all levels cannot be overstated. Decide well ahead of completion on key management positions and who is going to fill them. An effective integration plan must set out clear responsibilities and lines of reporting that are universally understood and will be implemented.

The Deloitte survey ranked other factors which the respondents considered to be important in achieving a successful transaction in order as follows; economic certainty (19% of respondents), accurately valuing a target (18% of respondents), stable regulatory and legislative environment (15% of respondents), proper target identification (14% of respondents) and sound due diligence process (11% of respondents).

The corporate finance team at MHA Moore and Smalley has a wealth of experience of advising on transactions of all sizes in a wide range of sectors. If you would like to discuss this blog in more detail, please contact Paul Bennett from our Corporate Finance team on 01772 821021.

Stephen Gregson

Professional: Stephen joined our team from KPMG Corporate Finance in Manchester in 2002. To date he has advised businesses on mergers and acquisitions, fundraising and strategic planning across a wide range of sectors including waste management, haulage, construction, engineering and wealth management financial services.

At Moore and Smalley Corporate Finance he has continued to focus upon advising owner managed businesses on strategic direction, mergers and acquisitions, and fundraising.

Personal: Stephen is happily married and has two young children He enjoys travelling both in Britain and abroad.

Michael Briggs

Professional: Michael is responsible for some of the firm’s largest clients in addition to advising a range of multi-sector owner managed businesses across the region.

His specialist areas include management consultancy, business planning and company purchases and sales.

Personal: Michael is a dedicated runner, covering over 1000 miles every year. He regularly competes in marathon and half marathon events all over the world, often raising money for charity. When he’s not running Michael enjoys learning about history, including travelling to special sites of historic interest, he is particularly interested in World War I.