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High street expert predicts bumper year for business sales

Gareth Smyth, CEO of Hilton Smythe Group

Gareth Smyth, CEO of Hilton Smythe Business Advisors, is predicting that the new year could bring some new opportunities to small business owners, provided they’re willing to sell.

The Bolton-based national firm, which supports all aspects of the process of buying or selling a business, have seen a three-fold increase in buyer enquiries since 2019, fuelled by people wanting to take an entrepreneurial route after leaving their jobs during lockdown.

The Lloyds Bank Business Barometer has also reported a six-point increase, to 36 per cent, in terms of confidence in businesses, in particular amongst buyers of businesses – the highest level since April 2017.

However, Hilton Smythe has observed that the number of sellers coming to market isn’t meeting the high demand from buyers, meaning that those wishing to sell in early 2022 could find themselves in a good position.

Gareth Smyth said: “The difficulty we have at the moment is that people don’t want to sell. They think it’s a bad time to sell but in fact the contrary is true. We’ve got buyers waiting to buy businesses.

“Businesses have had a hard time of late, and for any small business to go through a pandemic, survive, granted with a lot of help from the government, is incredible. But now is the time we’ll start to see sinking or swimming and, inevitably, lots of businesses will start to struggle now furlough has come to an end, so that may be a catalyst for people to decide it’s time to sell up.

“While that may sound a bit negative, it’s actually a really positive step for a business owner who wants to move on to something else and thinks that they’re stuck because of COVID. It’s a seller’s market right now and buyers are looking for small, local business to take over.

“Around 60 per cent of our core sales market is people retiring, so I’d certainly say if you’re putting off your retirement because you’re concerned about selling your business, make it your new year’s resolution to get it on the market. You could be sitting with your feet up in no time.”