Following Cooper Parry’s successful partnership with Tech Nation of Upscale 6.0 and 7.0, we’re delighted to support the tech scale-ups who will be participating on its new Upscale 8.0 programme. The call out for companies to apply is now live.

This year, our Tech & High Growth team is also adding its full support to two other high profile Tech Nation programmes: Applied AI and Fintech.

The UK is a global hub for AI and deep tech, and the Applied AI programme (now in its 4th year) helps these firms to scale, solve real world problems and push the boundaries of innovation.

Entering its 5th year, the Fintech programme is designed to help scaling companies in fast-growing sectors such as Web3, blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Tech Nation provides ambitious tech entrepreneurs and scaling businesses with the coaching, content and community they need on their journey; fuelling their growth so they can transform societies and economies in a positive manner. The programmes are government backed and free.

Tech Nation’s latest Upscale programme is now calling on the UK’s best performing, most promising tech scale-ups to apply to join the 8.0 cohort.

Since 2014, Tech Nation’s programmes have supported over 1,000 companies with over $237 billion raised between them. This includes 37 tech unicorns (valued at over $1 billion). The impressive alumni includes eToro, Monzo, Skyscanner, Revolut, Blockchain and Darktrace.

The six-month government-backed Upscale programme is designed to support and scale the most promising mid-stage tech companies in the UK. Companies accepted into the Upscale programme receive over 60 hours of support at world-class coaching sessions (delivered by over 20 expert scale coaches), attend networking events with key stakeholders, peers, corporates and investors, and have access to a range of online resources, designed to tackle fundamental scaling challenges around culture, talent, international expansion and financing.

We’ve continued and expanded our partnership with Tech Nation following the success of the earlier rounds. As Steve Leith, our Head of Tech & High Growth says;

“Giving scale-ups the opportunity to learn together on their high growth journey is really valuable. We know they need advisers who are experienced in dealing with the varying challenges of rapid growth and fundraising. It is at this time that risks and opportunities present themselves during diligence and we ensure our clients are ready for what’s coming.

“The scale-ups in the Upscale cohort are typically reaching that inflexion point, where professionalising their finance function is coming into focus, and solving finance-related challenges is becoming critical to their next phase of growth. The Fintech and Applied AI programmes are pulling together some of the highest potential and fastest growing scale-ups in the UK.

“Often, it’s at this point in the scaling journey that founders and CFOs consider working with an accounting firm with the right experience and fee levels to support the next stage. We are that firm in this space. Our Tech & High Growth team only work with companies in high growth mode. We have the culture to match the ambitions of these companies, and the mindset  to create a level of support you simply cannot find anywhere else. ”

HOW DO OUR TECH & HIGH GROWTH SPECIALISTS SUPPORT SCALE-UPS?

Despite being consistent in their growth stage, the three cohorts won’t all be facing the same challenges. So, understanding strategy and trajectory comes first, then, we’ll be able to flush out which finance-related challenges they should (and shouldn’t) be worrying about.

That could include:

1) Getting Diligence Ready – unique insights from our role in many venture deals acting for both founders and VCs

2) Transitioning from legacy start-up accounting firm to a new advisor who can cover audit and complex tax-related matters faced by rapid growth, giving speed of advice but also foreseeing future issues before they happen;

3) Improving their R&D claims process to drive cost and time savings, and to better protect against increasing risk of inaccurate claims;

4) Supporting their fundraising activity at Series A or B with our specialist Raising Finance team; or

5) Dealing with international expansion challenges – finding solutions to  issues like market entry, transfer pricing and IP considerations, employing people across borders, permanent establishment issues, cross border VAT and sales-taxes, and share option planning.

 

After two highly successful years, we can’t wait to get stuck into helping these three new cohorts and look forward to making a difference to their business.

Our Corporate Finance team with colleagues from the CP Transaction Tax and Private Client teams have advised the shareholders on the sale of Charles Pugh Holdings to Cary Group, the Swedish listed company.

Based in the Midlands, Charles Pugh is one of the UK’s market leaders in vehicle glass repair and replacement, along with related wholesale business.

Founded in 1917, Charles Pugh Holdings has its head office and main wholesale facility in the Midlands. The company has always been family owned with currently around 500 employees. It has 28 workshops for vehicle glass repair and replacement, around 190 mobile units and a wholesale business where they sell vehicle glass to the majority of the UK market.

Cary Group is a European market leader specialising in sustainable solutions for repair and replacement of vehicle glass, with a complementary offering in auto body repair. The acquisition bolsters Cary Group’s position in the United Kingdom.

Ed and Dave Pugh of Charles Pugh Holdings said:

“We have an excellent long-standing relationship with Cooper Parry and the various teams worked together seamlessly from start to finish to deliver a smooth transaction with a sophisticated international buyer. The Corporate Finance team led by Ben drove an efficient process and walked us through every stage of the deal, meaning we felt supported throughout. The team ensured that the transaction remained confidential, reducing any disruption to business during the 6-month process.”

Ben Rookes, Corporate Finance Partner said:

“CP has worked with the Pugh family for over 20 years and the business has grown significantly over that period. We were delighted to be able to support the shareholders in securing a great deal and a good home for Charles Pugh in Cary Group.”

Cooper Parry’s Corporate Finance team has been shortlisted in three of the East Midlands Dealmakers Awards 2022 categories – Corporate Finance Advisory Team; Emerging Dealmaker and Deal of the Year (above £10M) for which the team is nominated for three different deals

Take a look at our latest Totally Tax round up of personal tax issues that may well affect you. Full of helpful reminders and key dates for the coming tax year in one easy to find location.

Totally Tax Spring 2022

Contents include everything personal tax including: updates from the Spring Budget; easy tax savings; crypto tax; property tax problems?; tax penalties; IHT and Trusts; pension planning; personal tax reminders and a tax timeline for the coming year.

SNOWFLAKES, AVOCADOS, SELF-ENTITLEMENT & TECHNOPHOBIA.

So what happens when you bring together a group of Baby Boomers, Generation Xs, Millennials and Gen Zs?

Well, there was some lively debate. The sharing of some ideas based on real life scenarios. And some great suggestions as to how to harness different energies.

Confession time. We had planned to use an even more provocative title for this event. It was going to be “Are Gen Z dicks or are the rest of us all past it?”. It was vetoed by our Gen Z colleague. Quite rightly too.

Cutting to the chase, Gen Z aren’t dicks. But they do have balls.

This lively Leadership Dynamics event was hosted by Cooper Parry’s Ben Eason with Liam White, the co-founder of Dr Will’s, and Ian Wilson, co-founder of Wattbike. Successful businesses from opposite ends of the generational divide.

A bit of background

After an illustrious rowing career, Baby Boomer Ian became MD of Concept2 rowing machines – having identified the need for sports teams to effectively test their elite athletes. As co-founder and now President of Wattbike (annual t/o £35m across 30 countries), he now single-mindedly pursues one goal – to build the world’s most accurate indoor training bike

Twenty-something co-founder of Dr Will’s Liam left the world of investment banking at J.P Morgan in 2017. Dr Will’s create healthy condiments from natural ingredients with no added sugar, preservatives or additives. As a B Corp brand, they are on a mission to make food better – better tasting, better for you, better for the planet.

Around the table were people from a wide range of sectors. Retail, digital, social care, hospitality, engineering and construction. All multi-generational businesses. All shared examples of good, bad and the not so ugly reality of managing multi-generational businesses.

Food for thought

Ahead of the day, we’d run a survey to try and identify differences between the generations on business issues. From loyalty in business and purpose-led passion to exploring the impact of intergenerational diversity on business performance. We wanted to see if leaders from different generations have differing views and perspectives on the big issues impacting growth.

Here’s what we found:

Lazy stereotyping?

As Millennial Taylor Swift sings “when you are young, they assume you know nothing”.

Yes. Millennials and Gen Zs have embraced technology. Try getting them to put down their smart phones. But that’s not a bad thing. They can help businesses find new ways of working. They will challenge the ‘it’s always been done this way’.

Baby Boomers can be set in their ways. But that business knowledge and experience has a value, as Dr Will’s has found when growing their business.

Everyone around the table agreed that there needs to be mutual respect between the generations. Well, obviously. This doesn’t have to mean total agreement. In fact friction can be a positive energy.

As is often the case, talking is usually the answer. Not every problem has a digital answer. For example, reverse mentoring can make a real difference for both ends of the generational divide. Boomers can learn about tech. Gen Zs can learn from their experience. And so on.

There was a consensus around the positives of employing Gen Zs. They care about purpose. They will challenge and question. They value businesses that are aligned with B-Corp principles. They’re not afraid to move on.

So, what’s the learning?

Want to have your say?

If you want to know more about what was discussed and what our survey said get in touch. We’d be happy to tell you more.

Even better. You know what? The conversation was so good and there’s so much more to discuss we’re running this event again. This time in Birmingham on 18th May – 6 to 8pm. As the Baby Boomers would say “be there or be square”. Let us know it you’re interested in coming along.

What the heck is Leadership Dynamics?

Leadership Dynamics is all about exploring how Founders, Owners and Entrepreneurs can share, learn and then impact their business with fresh, ballsy and vibrant thinking.

We get straight to the heart of any prickly matter by provoking open and honest discussion in an intimate, peer-to-peer setting. The series is punctuated by dazzling insights from our quarterly round-table events, hosted by Ben Eason, Director of Cooper Parry Business Relationships.

We spotlight outstanding leaders in their field to share their stories of trial and triumph and spark deep discussion into real life issues. Key learnings are continually shared to take away, apply and learn from.

Above all, we keep it real. You get the drift.

Want to come along to a future event? Register your interest here.

The drive for business sustainability has never been greater. To help make this happen, we’re helping to build a totally fresh new community: SUSTAINABILITY SUSSED – an online and real community of like-minded, successful, culturally aligned and collaborative firms who want to challenge the status quo.  

And there was a fantastic turn out for the recent Sustainability Sussed event.  

Around the virtual table were sustainability champions from the across the business spectrum. From the world of retail premium fashion brand Paul Smith, supermarket chains Tesco and the Central England Co-op along with Hunter Douglas the parent group for brands such as Hillarys Blinds and Linney the digital marketing agency who have made huge strides on their sustainability journey already.  

Hosted by April Bembridge our Chief People Officer along with Cat Kelly and Nico Ciobanu who are championing sustainability advisory activity within CP. This first meeting provided a valuable opportunity to share insight, experiences and common challenges.  

After all addressing sustainability within a business is daunting. There’s so much to consider. From production and manufacturing to packaging and distribution let alone the impact of bricks and mortar stores.  

HOW TO EAT AN ELEPHANT 

As Desmond Tutu once wisely said that “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” We really don’t approve of eating elephants. However, his advice could easily apply to tackling sustainability.  

Some great ideas were shared during the lively conversation. An overriding view was that your efforts don’t have to be perfect. It’s far better to have the whole world trying imperfectly than a small group which is doing it perfectly. It all makes a difference.  

Addressing sustainability impacts within business is about being brave. There’s no one size fits all answer. We’re all on a journey to making a difference. Sharing practical ideas and solutions across sectors is of great value.  

It’s all about being brave. Making small changes that truly make a difference.  

BUSINESS WITH PURPOSE 

The conversation was wide ranging. But there were some recurring themes:

WE’LL MEET AGAIN  

Sustainability Sussed will be meeting again. The sharing of insight from across business sectors provided unexpected benefits for the participants. We’ll aim to meet three times a year, with next round table discussion set to happen in September. 

The bringing together of businesses who are willing to support each other on their journey to achieve their green business goals was invaluable.  

Inevitably the focus of this first meeting was wide ranging. Some of the themes identified will be talked about in more detail at future meetings. Topics bookmarked for future discussion include: 

ONLINE OR IN PERSON? 

A final thought. It’s very easy to assume that if you move your business activities online, whether that’s retail or how you hold events that you become instantly carbon neutral. If only it was that simple.  

This event which was hosted via the on-line platform REMO still created 80kg of carbon. The equivalent to the energy used to boil a kettle over a thousand times. Whilst this is less than what would have been the impact having done it in person, we’ll go back to the blackboard and explore how to continue minimising our impact on our journey to Net Zero. 

If you think you should be part of the conversation and want to join the next Sustainability Sussed event let us know. Join the Sustainability Sussed group on LinkedIn where we’ll be sharing more information and making connections between businesses committed to making a change.  

If you need any help with sustainability assurance or reporting, CP can help. Mandatory sustainability reporting for large companies is to be introduced by the EU under its Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive. It’s expected to be in place by 2023. The law will also affect non-EU registered businesses trading across the EU. It won’t be long until this requirement is passed onto to SMEs as well so now is a good time to get things in place.

ATED stands for Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings and is a charge which usually applies to UK residential property owned by companies, partnerships with a corporate member, and collective investment schemes.

Since the scheme was introduced, the threshold for ATED has decreased drastically, and now sits at just £500,000, which has led to more properties requiring an ATED return over time.

Properties within the scope of ATED must be revalued every 5 years, and the next revaluation date was 1 April 2022. You’ve got until the end of this month to declare and pay any tax owed.

VALUATION DATES

The value of the property for any chargeable period is the value at the later of:

This means that even where relief from ATED is available, properties requiring an ATED return must now complete the return based on the value of the property at 1 April 2022.

It is likely that many properties that were outside of the scope of ATED over the last 5 years may now be worth more than £500,000. Where this is the case, a charge may arise for the first time.

Furthermore, properties that previously have required an ATED return, may now fall within a higher valuation bracket, thus increasing the tax payable (subject to qualifying for any reliefs).

HMRC have published the summary of tax rate bands for the upcoming year which can be found here.

FILING DEADLINES

ATED returns must be submitted online between 1 April and 30 April each year or within 30 days of acquiring the property. For the upcoming year, where applicable, ATED should be declared and paid by 30 April 2022 for the period 1 April 2022 to 31 March 2023.

RELIEFS

There are several reliefs that are available to reduce the charge payable. A handful of these reliefs are highlighted below:

WHAT TO DO NEXT?

Since 2022 is the latest revaluation year, properties that may not have previously fallen within the ATED regime may now do so.

It is recommended that where there is a chance of ATED applying, each residential property owned through the company, partnership or collective investment scheme should be revalued, to determine its market value for ATED purposes.

Whilst a formal valuation is not strictly required, it is advisable to use a property professional (for example, a surveyor or estate agent) in order to ensure that the figure is robust and reasonable.

The filing date is 30 April 2022, and if the return is not submitted on time, late filing penalties and interest can apply, even where no tax is due because of an available relief.

If you would like support with determining whether this is relevant, exploring the availability of reliefs, or assistance completing the return, please get in touch. Jake’s contact details are given below.

D is for Digital Carbon Footprint. E is for ESG and F is for Fairtrade. We’ve added to our A to Z of green words and phrases 

Lots of sectors use jargon. You’ll have heard of HMRC, PAYE and VAT from the world of tax and accountancy. You may well have come across CSR. Though depending on the context it could stand for Corporate Spending Review or Corporate Social Responsibility.  

As we’ve embarked on our sustainability journey we’ve come across a whole new set of jargon, acronyms and phrases. Some might even say green gibberish. We couldn’t possibly comment. We were a bit nonplussed by some. Here we share some of what we’ve learnt.  

We’ll add more as we go along. Send us your suggestions for inclusion in our lexicon of sustainability and help us get us all the way to Z. We’re kicking off with the basics with A, B and C.

A is for: 

ARTICLE 6 

This is a highly complicated and technical part of the Paris Agreement, which essentially sets out the framework for voluntary global cooperation on trading emissions reductions – also referred to as international ‘carbon markets’ or in technical Article 6 language ‘Internationally Traded Emissions Outcomes’ – to enable countries to reduce their emissions and meet the pledges set out in their ‘Nationally Determined Contributions’ 

B is for: 

B Corp

Certified B Corps are for profit businesses united by one vision: to use business as a force for good. A ‘B Corp’ considers how their actions impacts their employees, clients, suppliers, community and the environment. Ultimately, B Corps work to build a more inclusive and sustainable economy for all. Here at CP we’re nearing towards achieving Certified B Corporation status. 

C is for: 

CARBON OFFSETTING

If you’ve ever booked flights online you’ll have been offered the chance to ‘offset’ your flights. The idea behind offsetting is that you’re ‘balancing’, ‘compensating’, or ‘neutralising’ the carbon emissions from those flights. Or a given activity by paying into a scheme or project that will reduce emissions somewhere else.  

Offsetting investments are made in environmental and climate restoration projects such as tree planting, or renewable energy development schemes around the world.  

Get in touch if you’re got any suggestions for words or phrases to include or that you’d like explained.

D is for: 

DIGITAL CARBON FOOTPRINT   

We’re all becoming more and more dependent upon technology. It was particularly the case during the Coronavirus pandemic which saw many of us having to work remotely. Some of us are now choosing to work from home and have changed our work habits making the most of technology.  

Whilst there are green benefits from working from home with less traffic on the roads there are still hidden environmental impacts from using technology. Sending emails, making video calls and  streaming music and films all have an impact. 

If the internet was a country, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions it would be the sixth largest polluter. These emissions can be split into four areas:  

E is for:

ESG – ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND GOVERNANCE

Sustainability reporting involves the disclosure and communication of a company’s environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals, including the progress it has made towards them.

It demonstrates a commitment to sustainable development which, in turn, can boost internal and external stakeholder confidence and improve your company’s reputation.

Mandatory sustainability reporting for large companies is to be introduced by the EU under its Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). It’s expected to be in place by 2023. The law will also affect non-EU registered businesses trading across the EU. You can read more about sustainability reporting here.

F is for:

FAIR TRADE

Fairtrade is a system of certification that aims to ensure a set of standards are met in the production and supply of a product or ingredient. For farmers and workers, Fairtrade means workers’ rights, safer working conditions and fairer pay. For shoppers it means high quality, ethically produced products. Find out more at Fairtrade

You wouldn’t drive your car without it having passed its annual MOT. Well in our view it should be the same when it comes to businesses and VAT. Hang on in there the analogy works. Honestly.

Everyone knows the UK VAT legislation and regulations are notoriously complex. Even non-tax experts are likely to have heard of the saga involving Jaffa Cakes and their VAT rating.

Given few businesses have in-house VAT specialists we’ve come up with a new approach to help them avoid HMRC VAT assessments and penalties.

That’s where our VAT MOT comes in to play.

Our VAT MOT is very like the MOT you have on your car. It’s a VAT health check for your business. We’ll make sure you’re operating within the VAT rules and your business is roadworthy. It’ll help you stand up to any HMRC scrutiny and avoid potential penalties and fines.

We’ll look out for the primary VAT issues that typically face businesses trading domestically and internationally. Our review will highlight any risk areas and outline recommendations for anything that needs further exploration or fixing.

You’ll be firmly in the driving seat when it comes to deciding which areas merit further work or review by our team. Along with identifying any areas of concern our VAT MOT can offer reassurance. Giving you that peace of mind that ‘reasonable care’ has been taken. As required by HMRC.

To learn more about out VAT services including the VAT MOT take a look here. Or get in touch with Lisa Topliss, our VAT Partner and we’ll send you a link so the person who prepares your VAT return can fill in an online questionnaire, which is the first phase of the VAT MOT process. Investing 30 minutes of your time could save a lot of HMRC hassle longer term.

Once we have your details, we’ll arrange a follow up call with our VAT experts who’ll take you through the VAT MOT process.

Want to keep up to date on everything that is going on in the world of R&D? Our R&D team produce a regular newsletter which provides a round up of news, expert opinion with a healthy dose of humour and insight into their world within Cooper Parry.

Current edition

Download a PDF of the latest edition for Spring 2022.

Don’t forget you can sign up to receive the newsletter direct to your inbox. Stay ahead of the game!

Previous editions of Incentives Insider

A festive edition December 2021.

Get in touch if you’d like to know more about how making a R&D tax claim could really benefit your business. And don’t forget we also have a LinkedIn group for like minded R&D professionals. Join us here.

 

Gap’s UK stores. Closed. Mothercare shops. Gone. Debenhams outlets. Goodbye. Topshop Oxford Street – once arguably the most successful retail operation in the world. RIP.

It’s no exaggeration to say physical retail, squeezed by a vicious pincer movement of growing online sales and Covid, has never had it tougher. Take a walk down your average British high street and the only thing to distract you from the smell of decay is the mournful sound of Amazon delivery vans revving towards residential addresses.

 

Yet physical retail still works. There are shining beacons amid the fog. Take a walk around Spitalfields Market in East London, for example, and you’ll see vibrant traders and enthusiastic shoppers loving the hands-on experience of buying and selling. Companies like Hotel Chocolat are also succeeding in physical retail by presenting their shops as experiential versions of their online offering. Certain independents, too, do brisk trade offline because they market themselves as compelling destinations. Even Amazon sees the benefits of real-world retail with its growing number of physical, checkout-free stores.

Another analogue business thriving while the web and Covid take chunks out of our high streets is Boxpark.

 

     

Founder Roger Wade is passionate about physical retail and believes its decline can – indeed, must – be halted. He asks: “What sort of future do we want? The Jeff Bezos future, where we sit at home tapping iPads in silence waiting for drones to deliver our meals, or one where we all talk face to face as a community surrounded by beautiful shops? “I know what I want, but I’m so worried about the future of our town centres and high streets. Urgent action is needed.”

Roger offers hope, however. He argues: “I believe in physical retail, I really do. Why? You can boil all retail, physical or online, down to three things: content, traffic and conversion. Nothing touches physical retail for content. That’s why Apple has real stores – the world’s greatest tech company understands how powerful physical retail can be. Online retail, on the other hand, is like watching fireworks on TV – you don’t get the 360-degree sensory experience.

“Then there’s traffic,” he continues. “Unlike the internet, which is expensive, physical retail is a cost-effective way to build traffic. It allows you to show off products, attract Instagrammers and bloggers, and market your brand and products swiftly and efficiently.

“Finally, there’s conversion. When you sell online you might get one in 100 customers buying. In-store, it’s more like one in ten. So I’d argue that physical retail can do it better on every part of the journey.”

So why is physical retail struggling so much? There are three major reasons, according to Roger. Two are in the hands of retailers but the third is more problematic. Here’s what Roger believes physical retailers must do to fight back.

1) Innovate harder and faster.

Shopkeepers, restaurant owners and other physical retailers must get at least as good as digital businesses at innovating, rather than doing the same tired old things and expecting a different result. But the important point here that many of us miss, according to Roger, is that innovation doesn’t mean doing mindbendingly whizzy things but simply learning from what does and doesn’t work, and quickly embracing change.

He explains: “Boxpark has evolved. My first idea was to build a high street from shipping containers and fill them with fashion and streetwear independents. But we found that street-food traders – an incidental part of the mix at first – did the best trade, so over time we became more of a street-food emporium.

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