Begbies Traynor diversifies with transport consulting deal

11 February 2019

Corporate recovery specialist firm Begbies Traynor has continued its attempts to diversify its offering with the purchase of a Manchester-based transport firm. Croft Transport Planning & Design is understood to have an annual turnover of almost £2 million, and will join the consultancy’s property services arm.

2018 was a difficult year for companies across the business spectrum, with huge numbers of collapses in the retail and casual dining sectors in particular marking out a poor year for the UK high-street. With the state of play showing no sign of improvement, and an impending culmination of two years of Brexit negotiations threatening to shunt the UK’s economy into a recession, this is surely set to be the case in 2019 as well.

A recent report from Begbies Traynor – the UK’s largest professional services consultancy specialising in the areas of corporate recovery and insolvency – found that the number of businesses in significant distress across the UK now stands at 481,000. This saw a particularly concerning leap of 15,000 during the final quarter of 2018, amid a winter of uncertainty that saw the likes of HMV collapse into administration, and left some 200 shopping centres on the brink of administration.

Begbies Traynor diversifies with transport consulting deal

With this in mind, it is easy to see why some would expect the current economic environment to create big business for restructuring and corporate rescue consultants. This has not been the case, however, and contrary to the expectations of what would occur in the wake of a financial crisis, the insolvency market has been relatively static. At Begbies Traynor, this has impacted on the firm’s profit line, and as a result it is chasing a rapid agenda of diversification. To that end, the firm has continued the expansion of its property services arm, acquiring Manchester-based consultancy Croft Transport Planning & Design.

Croft Transport was established in 2010 to provide highways, transport and traffic advice and expertise on commercial, residential and mixed-use schemes to developers, house builders and landowners. Its last reported annual turnover stood at £1.8 million, with pre-tax profits of £0.7 million in the year to 30 September 2018, while at that time its gross assets amounted to £2.2 million. The firm’s team of 10 will join the Eddisons professional services business, which Begbies Traynor acquired in 2014.

This is the fourth acquisition Begbies Traynor has undertaken since 2014, as the firm looks to diversify its offering. Other firms purchased in that time included property valuation firm Taylors, property auctioneers Pugh & Co and industrial auctioneers and valuers CJM.

The consultancy’s property wing will continue to provide chartered surveyors with expertise in valuation and asset disposal to both solvent & insolvent cases. Following the payment of an initial consideration of £1.5 million, Begbies Traynor will be liable to pay a further £2.5 million if “stretching financial targets” for the business are met during the following five-year period.

Commenting on the acquisition, Begbies Traynor’s Executive Chair Ric Traynor said the move furthered the group’s aim of developing a property services division “by increasing both the scope of its service offering and geographical coverage”.

Traynor added, “Croft has excellent relationships with a broad range of clients, which have been developed by providing a consistently high quality, specialist and professional service over many years.”


SQW Group purchases property-based regeneration consultancy

19 April 2019

UK consulting firm SQW Group has completed its first acquisition since it completed a management buyout in January 2019. BBP Regeneration joins the company having collaborated with SQW for more than 20 years.

Established in 1983, SQW Group now operates all over the world. Comprising SQW, Oxford Innovation, Oxford Innovation Services – one of the UK’s leading innovation centre operators – and Oxford Investment Opportunities Network, the organisation’s origins can be traced to Britain’s two ancient university cities: Oxford, through Oxford Trust founders, Martin and Audrey Wood, and Cambridge, through SQW’s work in producing The Cambridge Phenomenon.

The consultancy specialises in public policy, working with entities from the public, private and voluntary sectors to research, develop, implement and evaluate social and economic development interventions. It now employs over 250 people across regional offices in London, Oxford and Edinburgh, and provides business support to over 4,000 entrepreneurs and small businesses each year. At the start of 2019, SQW secured its independence in a management buyout, advised on by M&A experts from Liberty Corporate Finance and Penningtons Manches.

SQW Group purchases property-based regeneration consultancy

SQW has strengthened its position as a provider of services across the business spectrum with the acquisition of BBP Regeneration. Founded in 1994, the consulting firm specialises in land and property-based regeneration and growth schemes, and is a leading social and economic development consultancy. 

The two firms first worked together over 20 years ago, when SQW and BBP collaborated to develop the first Regional Economic Strategy for the South East. More recently, they developed an economic strategy for Thanet and are now working together in locations stretching from Cwmbran via Oxfordshire to London.

With the addition of BBP, SQW can now provide an integrated advisory service for organisations developing property schemes which deliver economic benefit to their local area. By joining SQW, meanwhile, BBP hopes to further enhance its ability to support clients in delivering property and place-making ambitions. 

Speaking about the deal, SQW CEO David Crichton-Miller commented, “The UK more than ever needs solutions to the challenges of places – of high streets under threat, of meeting housing delivery targets, and of both economically over-successful and economically challenged towns and cities – and the combination of SQW and BBP is uniquely suited to developing those solutions. [This deal] brings together critical and complementary services relating to places to serve our clients with leading edge and practical advice.”

Andy Smith, Director of BBP Regeneration, added, “SQW shares with BBP the same values of seeking to provide outstanding, practical, real world advice that helps get buildings built and places developed.  We greatly look forward to the opportunities that come from joining our two organisations together.”