Miles Mann (pictured below), owner of The Cotswold Fine Jewellery Group, can trace his family’s roots in the jewellery trade back as far as 1741.
William Mann, the then Sherriff of Gloucester, opened the first jewellery shop on the city’s historic cross and Miles is the latest of many generations to follow the family tradition. Nowadays, the firm operates seven shops dotted about the South of England with a team of around fifty staff, most of whom (Miles was pleased to inform us) are members of the partnership we helped set up some years ago.
Thanks, in part, to the group structure we helped set up, Miles has – over the last five years or so – been able to grow his family business through acquisitions. He was more than happy to speak to the many benefits the group structure has provided for his cherished family business.
“It’s allowed me to grow the business”
Miles said: “By using the LLP [Limited Liability Partnership] model, it’s allowed me to grow and acquire three separate businesses. Now I need to bring those businesses together under one roof in order to simplify my shareholding with my partner”, he added – hence, the group structuring.
Additionally, on acquisitions, these often need to happen quickly – perhaps a business owner is keen to retire at the termination of a lease, or the directors have run into financial difficulties etc. – and group structuring helps simplify the process to ensure no time is wasted.
“Small companies like us tend to think: you have your business, you name it after yourself, stick a ‘Ltd’ on the end, and you retire or sell it at the end and that’s it.” However, by doing things this way, SMEs leave themselves vulnerable. We believe that small business owners don’t just have a right to protect themselves, they have a duty to do so.
If you owned, say, a jewellery shop, would you lock the doors at night, have a security system installed, and take all necessary steps toward protecting your assets along with your onsite team members? Of course, who wouldn’t?
In fact, doing so would be one of the most important duties of yours as owner of the shop. We would suggest that implementing a group structure falls under the same duty of care.
“You’ve got to fight”
“I’m a big believer in making your own luck”, Miles said, before adding: “If you want to grow your business, you’ve got to fight.” As well as simply keeping things tidy, group structuring allows you to manage and protect your assets (across all entities) and contain your contingent liabilities, as necessary.
As well as facilitating growth, group structuring is useful to businesses – particularly those with a lot of trading assets, e.g. jewellers etc., or businesses that have done well and have a fair bit of money in the bank – because (as mentioned) it protects assets (tangible and otherwise) from unexpected, and possibly even fraudulent, claimants.
By having multiple companies under one catch-all group structure, you can avoid, for example, having business accounts frozen or being forced to sell assets or hand over cash when faced with a huge, unexpected (and possibly illegitimate) bill you don’t want to or can’t afford to immediately pay.
It’s about choice – you need to be able to conduct a civilised dispute with a claimant (who may have deep pockets) without having to do so under duress. It also gives you a much stronger negotiating position in such a case.
“Peace of mind is a big thing”
To summarise, speaking on the effect of implementing a group structure, Miles said, quite simply: “Peace of mind is a big thing.”