Business owners seeking to reshape their companies to overcome the challenges of the pandemic and Brexit have put accounting and advisory firm HURST on track for a bumper year as it gears up to celebrate its 40th anniversary.
HURST grew fee income by 20 per cent in the 12 months to March 31 and has already secured an order book of £8.2m for the new financial year.
Staff numbers have increased to over 90, and HURST expects its workforce to top 100 over the next six months as it caters for an expanding client base and a buoyant deals pipeline.
HURST, which was established in 1982, focuses on advising entrepreneurial owner-managed businesses with turnover of £5m and above. Clients include Kinaxia Logistics, M&I Materials, Beechfield Brands, Duerr’s, Oliver Valves and Delamere Dairy.
HURST chief executive Tim Potter hailed a ‘pivotal’ year for the firm as its expertise advising leading north west entrepreneurs came to the fore, helping them to successfully adapt to the challenges of Covid-19 and Brexit.
He said HURST had secured more advisory work with existing clients to help them prosper through the turmoil and beyond. The firm also grew with a host of UK and international client wins across sectors including manufacturing, engineering and wholesaling.
Tim said: “At the outset of the pandemic, we were naturally concerned about the outlook, but we were inspired by clients who looked on Covid-19 and government support programmes as opportunities rather than threats to their businesses.
“Our diligence in choosing to work with only the best entrepreneurial businesses has really paid off.
“HURST’s mission is to help our clients prosper and grow and, over the past year, many have sought to restructure, re-tool and re-engineer their businesses to meet the challenges of coronavirus and Brexit and prepare for the ‘new normal’.
“This has meant advising on changing business models and de-risking strategies, including setting up operations abroad, digitalisation, transitioning to employee ownership trusts and developing new channels and routes to market, in particular importers selling to multi-site retailers.
“At the same time, the mergers and acquisitions market has rebounded strongly as investors seek opportunities, and companies with cash reserves look to grow through acquisitions as we emerge from the pandemic. Our corporate finance deals pipeline is stronger than ever.
“As a result of these trends, our full-service offering has really stood out in the market. As we enter our 40th year, we look forward to the future with confidence due to the enduring strength of our proposition.”
Tim said HURST had also benefited by implementing a new digital approach of its own.
“During the pandemic, we have accelerated our own business plans to scale up using digital technology, in particular in our audit department,” he said.
“Clients and prospects have been more willing to engage with us digitally because of the circumstances. We have stepped up our digital marketing too, which has led to a significant number of new clients.
“However, our face-to-face, partner-led approach remains central to our proposition. Opening our offices and visiting clients when it was safe to do so have been real differentiators for us, especially against larger firms.”
Twelve new recruits have taken staff numbers to over 90, and HURST expects to add at least the same number again this year across its business services, tax, digital and marketing teams alongside a graduate intake. The latest new arrival is Greg Wilson, who has joined the business services team as a senior manager from Grant Thornton.
Among HURST’s workforce there have been a raft of promotions. Jo Gibson, who heads HURST Digital, which was set up in 2019 to help companies improve their performance and efficiency by making the most of technology, has become a partner. John Glover in the business services team has also become a partner.
Ben Bradley in HURST Corporate Finance and Chris Stewardson in business services have been promoted to associate partner level.
Tim said: “Our people have really stepped up and we couldn’t have made the progress we have without them. It has been brilliant to be able mark their achievements with so many internal promotions as well as a range of benefits which have reinforced our reputation as a premier employer.”
Another key development in the past year was establishing a new base in Manchester city centre at flexible working space Spaces Deansgate.