Since the beginning of lockdown in March 2020, there has been a 18% increase in the number of business owners preparing to exit their companies in comparison to the year before, according to award-winning business consultancy Biramis Management Partners.

According to the Manchester-based specialist, the figure has spiked again since the start of the November lockdown with the consultancy advising on 3 times as many enquiries in the three-month period following this, compared to the same time frame in 2019.

This news comes as the UK marks over a year since the coronavirus pandemic forced people into their houses, staff members away from the offices and all organisations to adapt to largely online operations. However, the CEO of Biramis Management Partners, Christiane Hutchinson, insists that these figures should be seen as a good thing.

Hutchinson explains: “The increase in the number of owners coming forward and seeking advice on exiting their business is a positive – it means these individuals are thinking strategically about the approach they will take when the time is right and how they can maximise the value of this exit.

“It’s more concerning, to me, how so many business owners still aren’t taking time to plan this monumental move. Of course, with the situation changing every day, many are likely to be feeling swamped and as if they don’t have the time to start having these conversations, but this could be very dangerous. It could lead to them closing the business or selling to the nearest available buyer, without taking full advantage of the value that’s to be had.”

As a result of this, Biramis Management Partners has linked up with ByrneWallace LLP to host a three-part webinar series around preparing for different types of business exits – whether it is through a trade sale, MBO or legacy exit where the business is passed on through the family.

The first of these webinars took place on Thursday 25th February and focused on ‘Planning for a Successful Business Sale’. It saw business owners across a range of industries come together to discuss their experiences, share their insights, and warn attendees of red flags to watch out for.

This included Valerie Moran, who founded Prepaid Financial Services – one of the world’s leading fintech providers – with her husband Noel before exiting in 2020, Stirling Austin, who founded NIM Europe Management before selling it five years later. Michelle Walshe, who joined her family business M&M Walshe Group in 2011 before selling it to Eight Fifty Food Group when her father and aunt wanted to retire, also joined the panel of speakers along with Ronan Byrne, who has built up and sold three companies to large multinationals over the years.

The panel discussed the importance of planning early, getting your structure set up and house in order ready for a sale, the need for an external adviser and how no-one is ever fully prepared for the intensity that a business exit brings. For more information on the insights that were shared during this session, please see here.

The next webinar in the series is scheduled for Thursday 25th March and will focus on ‘Maximising value from your MBO’. This session will discuss management buyouts, why and when it is a good idea, and the challenges involved in succeeding the financing of such an exit strategy.

Webinar: Maximising value from your MBO

It will feature the same knowledgeable experts that joined the first webinar; Biramis’ CEO, Christiane Hutchinson, Partner and Head of Corporate at ByrneWallace LLP, Neil Keenan, and Chairman of Resolve Ireland and Biramis Ireland, Turlough O’Sullivan. Plus, much like the first webinar, it will also feature a new line-up of guest speakers who have been there, done that.

These include Dean Benson, the founder and CEO of Visualsoft, a full-service eCommerce and digital marketing agency headquartered in Stockton-on-Tees with offices in Teesside, Newcastle, Manchester and Dubai, and Matt Hirst, CEO of leading energy provider ESG. Matt was the mastermind behind the MBO of Utiligroup in 2014 and led it through a period of rapid growth before it was acquired by Accel-KKR in 2017. Matt then continued to run the UK operation of Utiligroup (now rebranded as ESG), before becoming global CEO of ESG in 2020.

Those joining the webinar can also expect to hear from Danny Hughes, Group CEO of Fastway Couriers Ireland which was exited by its original founders in 2017 via an MBO backed by MML Growth Capital Partners, and Neil McGowan, who – as Partner and Co-Head of Investments in MML Growth Capital Partners Ireland – has 12 years of investment banking and private equity experience.

This webinar, hosted by Biramis Management Partners and ByrneWallace LLP, can be booked onto here: