Anniversary special: Begbies Traynor
Ian McCulloch is in no doubt when asked to describe the best part of his job. It’s successfully turning around a business that is in trouble and saving jobs in the process. “It is a great feeling,” he explains.
His colleague Dean Watson agrees. “It does feel really good when you’ve protected people’s employment and sold a business as a going concern,” he adds.“When you go into a business you don’t know what you are going to find and there is nothing better than a successful outcome. No-one wants to go into a business to close it or to make people redundant.”
The team at Begbies Traynor’s Preston office, in the city’s business district, has had plenty of experience in rescuing companies over the past 25 years and its success stories abound.As members of the UK’s leading business recovery and insolvency firm, the city-based office is celebrating being part of Lancashire’s business community for a quarter of a century this year.
Today, as the practice marks that milestone, Preston has a 30-strong team working not just across the North West of England, but internationally.As well as its experienced team of corporate insolvency experts, Preston is also home to Begbies Traynor’s personal bankruptcy team.
It specialises in forensic investigative work, centred around personal bankruptcy cases, and has had spectacular success in tracking down both individuals and large sums of cash and assets squirrelled away around the globe.
“We’re here to give them the right solution. We may not tell them what they want to hear, but it is always what they need to hear”The Begbies Traynor story in Preston started back in 1993 with the opening of the office in Winckley Court by the founders of the practice which was then known as Buchler Phillips Traynor.With a 12-strong team, its mission was to meet the growing demand for the practice’s specialist services in central Lancashire.
It was headed up at the time by Ric Traynor and Andrew Dick, who a quarter of a century later are still heavily involved with what is now a national, stock exchange-listed business which has 40 offices and more than 400 staff.However, despite that growth and expansion Ian McCulloch, insolvency director and appointment taker in the corporate team in Preston, says the practice’s ethos has never altered since its arrival in the city centre.
“We are a local business,” he explains, “with a national network that supports us. That is how we operate and it is an approach that works.” The practice is active across all sectors and works with businesses of all sizes, from the smallest to regional and national companies.What they all have in common is they are in some degree of financial distress when the Begbies Traynor team is called in.
Dean Watson, managing partner specialising in corporate insolvency and restructuring, stresses that whatever the size of the business, the key to a successful outcome is calling for help as early as possible.He says: “Some people in struggling businesses bury their head in the sand for too long. The sooner we are called in the more likely there will be a positive outcome for everyone.
“We want to save jobs, turn things around and sell the company as a going concern, if we can.“We’re also here to lighten the burden. There can be a great sense of relief when we go into a company, the feeling that something is being done and that the problems are being addressed.”
Ian agrees and adds: “The business owner or management team may have been carrying that burden for months, with growing stress and sleepless nights.“We’re here to give them the right solution. We may not tell them what they want to hear, but it is always what they need to hear.”
Timeline:1993: Preston office opens (then Buchler Phillips Traynor)
1996: Sarah Marsden joins the team1997: Firm changes its name to Begbies Traynor
1999: Dean Watson joins the practice2001: The office’s first international precedent of note as a UK bankruptcy order is recognised for the first time in Australia
2004: The group is floated on the AIM exchange2008: Ian McCulloch joins the office
2010: The office creates another first with the use of a UN international protocol in a case that helps recover £1m+ in gold and silver hidden in New Zealand2016: Dean Watson becomes managing partner, Ian starts taking appointments and heads up the corporate team
2018: 25th anniversary
He points to recent success stories including a locally-based business where almost 60 jobs were saved and a logistics company that was in trouble and which was saved from insolvency without the loss of any of the workforce.There have been many more similar cases over the past 25 years. The office’s personal bankruptcy team also has its collection of success stories.
These include one massively high-profile case where more than £1m of gold and silver bullion was recovered from its hiding place on the other side of the world. Sarah Marsden, who manages the team, says: “We are involved in a wide range of work in bankruptcy cases, looking to trace assets on behalf of creditors.“It is fascinating work that involves a lot of forensic and investigative work and can take us to anywhere in the world. It can be complex but it is extremely satisfying.”
Sarah, originally from Longridge, joined the practice after taking her A Levels and Ian, from Preston, arrived at the office a decade ago after working in the personal insolvency field.Dean has been with the company for almost 20 years, arriving in Preston two years ago from its Manchester operation.
Ian says: “One of the great strengths we have here in Preston is our team. It is a dynamic office that wants to get results and to help businesses and we’ve got a good mix of experienced and younger professionals.“Business failure is not something people want to talk about.
“However, we like to pride ourselves that our professionalism and our approach helps people in difficult times and that we can and do make a difference.“We feel our role in the business community is an extremely valuable one." He adds: “We’ve gained a hard won reputation over the past 25 years for our work and that is something everyone in the office is aware of and determined to continue.”