Ensors: Offering a positive approach in tough times
It can count a lot that someone is there for you when you run into difficulties – in both your personal and professional life.
If your business is facing tough times, it’s important to face up to the challenge and seek independent, expert help.
The approach at Ensors is that insolvency is the last resort.
“Our attitude is we want to save businesses,” says partner Mark Upton, speaking of the chartered accountants’ new ‘Ensors FIRST’ initiative, which offers an objective, positive and proactive approach.
Mark and fellow partner David Scrivener, who work across the region, say that the options they offer are focused on saving businesses and turning them around.
“Taking advice and coming to see us early enough means there are a number of solutions we can look at,” says Mark, who is based at Ensors’ Cambridge office at Platinum Building on St John’s Innovation Park. “A company’s directors may feel that an insolvency practitioner simply means liquidation. But at Ensors, that’s absolutely not how we approach things.”
Offering a compassionate and non-judgmental approach, Ensors FIRST aims to provide the support required to put a company on a stable financial footing and make it fit for the future.
That means conducting an independent review of the business in distress and drawing on the range of skills offered by Ensors. From corporate finance to forensic accountancy, tax advice to general accounting services, the expertise needed for a business’s particular circumstances can be deployed in order to explore all available avenues.
Ensors FIRST will also draw on external agents to bring in the services required by a company, such as lawyers, existing advisors and other turnaround professionals, who can help provide the financial and operational skills required and other key roles.
Funding will always be key and interaction with existing stakeholders and the ability to source new finance from investors, banks, asset-based lenders or other providers is often vital.
Restructuring advice can be offered, including options for a sale or a turnaround.
The process begins with an initial Ensors FIRST business review, which is free of charge and will outline the options available.
It was this approach that David and Mark took when helping a recent client, Bury St Edmunds manufacturer Stanref International.
“We were introduced by a lender,” says Mark. “There were issues with HMRC, and the landlord, plus trading issues, but it was fundamentally a viable business.
“Some might simply have closed it down but our approach is to stabilise, then we can look for a buyer. Wherever possible, we keep trading during that period.
“The process there is find a buyer, prepare to sell the business, retain the employees, then creditors get payments and all the strands work together.”
In Stanref’s case, together with the leadership team it was identified that the business needed to be sold.
David says: “Our interaction helped it to be sold, in this case in conjunction with an administration appointment, and indeed we found a buyer through one of our connections, Damsle LLP, an East Anglian investment company.
“If you didn’t have a joined-up approach and the skills and resources characterised by Ensors FIRST, that wouldn’t be the case.
“From that, 24 jobs were saved and Damsle is putting in the financial support and management expertise that the business required.”
“There were financial pressures but they came to us early enough,” adds Mark. “However, the sale process still needed to be two or three weeks, so it was absolutely a case of recognising that taking advice and coming to see us early meant there were a number of solutions we could look at.”
With smaller businesses, a situation that might look critical may turn out to be far from it.
“What tends to happen is that companies live from contract to contract, so if payments are slow it can have a huge effect,” Mark points out.
Where a business is in the technology field, the operating manual tends to differ.
“Perhaps something technical hasn’t worked. A company might need new funders or it might involve the sale of IP, which is a very different scenario,” says Mark.
This is where Ensors’ ability to work with its extensive external network will be key to devising the way forward.
And the team will work closely with a business until its situation is resolved, meaning the timeframe can vary.
“It might be four weeks for an intensive sale, but for more longer-term restructuring advice it could be many months,” says Mark. “It depends on what the solution is.”
Companies approaching Ensors for help can be reassured they are in good hands.
The team won the ‘Regional Insolvency Firm of the Year’ award at the I&R Awards in 2015, while David Scrivener won the ‘Dealmaker of the Year’ award at the Emerging Leaders M&A Awards last year.
Ensors works with all kinds of businesses – from sole traders with cash flow problems to major corporations facing temporary setbacks.
Ensors can offer advice in relation to issues faced by companies with pension deficits and covenant reviews for trustees of pension schemes in deficit.
It can also help individuals, including offering advice on directors’ responsibilities.
Its partners are there to offer an expert overview while its locally-based teams understand both the challenges and opportunities in the marketplace.
In Cambridgeshire, the Ensors team is 50-strong.
The Ensors FIRST approach is a key part of the strategy underpinning the Ensors’ brand. The team are there to explore all avenues and options to ensure that a business survives – and help it move forward with confidence.
To find out more about Ensors FIRST, visit ensors.co.uk/ensorsfirst/.