An entrepreneur so impressed by a business support concept that he chose to buy it has completed the acquisition with the professional support of one of his own members.
Ed Reid set up the York franchise of The Alternative Board (TAB), which brings together like-minded business owners and experts to share experience and support one
another, in 2009 with the help of British Franchise Association affiliated lawyer Marc Allison.
Ed went on to build the franchise, working with more than 80 members over six years, facilitating monthly meetings between small groups of owners of similar small-medium size businesses with turnover of £1m-£20m.
Ed, who was previously a senior executive at Nestle, explained: “The concept allows members to get different perspectives from experienced people who understand the challenges and opportunities they are facing but are running different kinds of businesses in different ways.
“Members meet with the same group each month. They hold each other accountable by listening and discussing then saying what action they intend to take as a result of the advice shared. They report back at the next meeting on what they’ve done and outcomes.”
When the owners of the overarching UK company of The Alternative Board TAB approached Ed to buy it, he once again turned to Marc, now a partner at North East regional legal practice BHP Law.
“Marc worked on my original franchise agreement and subsequently joined TAB York. It was a natural fit for him to handle the subsequent and more complex deal of buying the company,” said Ed.
Marc, who is based at BHP Law’s Darlington office, explained: “There were, in effect, two deals working in parallel. We had to negotiate a new master franchise agreement with TAB in the USA, which holds the global rights, as well as the acquisition of the UK business.
“We worked with US lawyers on our legal team to cover all of the international legal aspects.”
“Franchises can involve quite complex arrangements so it’s important that people choose legal advisers who are experienced in franchising and accredited by the British Franchise Association.”
Ed, who is now managing director of TAB UK, took a 50 per cent share along with his business partner Mags Fuller, who is finance director, funding the share purchase personally and with investment from Lloyds Bank and the EV Fund.
Ed’s franchise in York was one of just three nationally in 2009, which the previous owners Paul Dickinson and Jo Clarkson built to 30.
Ed added: “My role is much bigger role now but what I care about most is helping our SME owner members learn from each other to make their businesses as successful as possible, and making our national network as strong as it can be.
“We are a growing organisation and we are aiming to bring on board a new franchisee every other month, but importantly it’s more about the quality of the people joining us than it is about growth.
“I’m very proud of the altruistic element of TAB and the impartiality of the support and advice that’s on offer. Our members pay to join us but because they’re not paying each other it’s not about commercial gain and there are no hidden agendas. I think it’s difficult for business advisors or consultants to make that same argument.”
Internationally, TAB is operating in Australia, New Zealand Germany, Austria, Ireland, Switzerland and the Czech Republic.