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Matthew Hirst, chief executive of global group ESG

Matthew Hirst has a management buyout and the business sale of Lancashire-based

Utiligroup to its new parent group, where he is now chief executive, under his belt.

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Let our Corporate Finance team take the strain, contact us today to discuss your options and to help you deliver your exit plan.

• Exit planning

• Valuation of your business • Identifying potential buyers • Advice on a suitable marketing plan • Selection of the preferred buyer • Providing advice on tax aspects • Vendor due diligence

• Negotiating all commercial terms • Overall project management 0161 245 1000

Azets is the largest Top 10 regional SME Accountancy and Business Advisory firm delivering accounting, tax, audit, business and advisory services in the UK and internationally.

The Chorley-based company, founded in 1997, was acquired by US technology business ESG in 2017 for a reported £100m.

In 2014 Matthew led the successful buyout of the business with the backing of private equity 

Matthew said that ESG was still on the acquisition trail, as it continues on its international expansion journey.

And he revealed how he had walked away from two recent deals because of those businesses’ lack of preparation.

He added: “Get your advisors on board early to make sure that you have your house in order.”

Matthew said that the people side of the business was overlooked by some organisations when it came to deals. Having a “really strong” management team was vital for would-be investors.

He said: “It is a bit like a football team. You have people at different stages of their career.

“There may be experienced people looking to get off the business at that time, and it is planning for that. You need to make sure you have got a good succession plan and prove you can develop your people.”

Janine Murray, mergers and acquisitions director of Lancashire- based Daisy Communications

 has overseen

more than 30 transactions during the business communications and IT provider’s successful growth-through-acquisition journey.

She added: “Acquisition remains very much part of our strategy and will continue to be so.” Follow us

And she explained how the group looked for businesses that had complementary products and services as it looked to provide the complete IT package for its customers.

 echoed the need for businesses to work

with their advisors from a very early stage as the sale process was never simple and straightforward. She added: “You need to be truthful, realistic and pragmatic.”

That included bringing any issues out into the open rather than seeing them exposed during the due diligence process and losing the deal as a result.

She added: “When people are doing due diligence things will come out. Don’t be afraid to be honest. Giving out all the positives without being balanced will come back and bite you.”

Describing the disposal process as “a  prepared, the better placed you will be to maximise the value.”

 businesses owners working on a deal and all the questions they had to answer, while still doing the “day-to-day job”.

Paul Ainscough, director of Ormskirk-based play equipment company Eden Play


entrepreneur Paul Ainscough

is well-versed in buying businesses, including operations in distress where he sees an opportunity.

Sharing his philosophy when it comes to making those acquisitions, he said: “You must have a plan, that is the key. Why are you buying the business?

“There must be a long-term objective, whether that is to sell it, expand it, grow it or scale it down.”

He added: “You’ve got to understand the numbers. From that you can form a strategy.

“That is also the case when it comes to distressed businesses. Understand the numbers, understand the business and if there is an opportunity there.”

When it comes to identifying possible targets, he said: “I look at it from a personal perspective. What do I want out of it long-term?”

Paul also said he was happy to look at businesses in a range of sectors, although he has a particular interest in property.

Looking at his experiences in sealing the deal, he said that it was important to get the funding right and he added: “You have to be really carefully and get really good advice.”

Paul Harper, sales and marketing director of

Daish’s Holidays

The Bournemouth- based coach holiday specialist

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