How we help growing businesses in London
With our many years of experience serving businesses in London and around the capital, we have been able to help business owners and directors in a wide variety of ways.
Our aim is to save you time and money and help your business move forward, while you maximise the rewards of your hard work. Read these case-studies to see how we have worked with other companies in London to increase the returns from their business.
Creative & Media – Wizzard
West End-based communications specialists Wizzard believe in keeping things simple. Known for creating highly effective marketing communications strategies, the agency likes to focus on generating empathy because this “connects with the customer more effectively and gets better results for our clients”.
When it comes to the financial side of the business, Wizzard’s directors have learnt that also needs to be kept simple, which is why they have been working with chartered accountants Figurit to streamline a complex web of commercial entities in favour of a unified company structure.
“When Wizzard first approached Figurit I think they had about 12 companies with different year ends,” recalls managing partner Michael Lansdell. “They were always filing at the last minute; they regularly faced penalties for late filing; and their tax bills usually came as a shock because they came out of the blue.” As a way of creating order out of the chaos, the team at Figurit advised directors Graham Collis, Gerald Yaffie and James Howard-Vyse how to merge the businesses to avoid wasting time on superfluous filing and compliance issues. “Figurit was able to go in and restructure their affairs to get them all down to one company with a single year end,” Michael explains.
Driving out unnecessary complexity and simplifying the business structure also proved to be the foundation for a number of other enhancements: these not only made the business easier to manage but helped it become more profitable too. Filing accounts within ten days of the company’s year-end meant that the directors had a full nine months to plan for the agency’s corporation tax liability. This advantage also gave them greater insight into how their year was going to pan out.
“We got them into a cycle of quarterly management accounts completed within four weeks of the end of each quarter,” says Michael. One benefit of this approach was to give the directors greater clarity over the profitability of the business, which in turn enabled them to regulate their drawings in line with business performance – part of this could be taken as a regular salary with a top-up from dividends as and when circumstances allowed.
The financial discipline of regular management accounts now flows through to various business decisions, including cash-flow planning and cost management. Understanding how the agency is performing on a quarterly basis has enabled the right decisions to be taken at board meetings in terms of targeting sales and controlling expenses.
Furthermore, the way Wizzard’s reporting structures has been set up has offered the directors good insight into the relative performance of different sections of the business. This information not only allows them to monitor the viability of each part, but could potentially also be used to help define bonuses and performance-based pay where appropriate.
In addition, the accuracy, timeliness and presentation quality of such management accounts have been extremely helpful when dealing with the agency’s bankers. Meanwhile, more bespoke support from Figurit – for instance, reviewing the commentary associated with the accounts presented to the bank – has been of genuine benefit.
Finally, a more disciplined approach to the financial affairs of the business has brought definite tax advantages. “We are able to provide a tax estimate each quarter so that the company can put the money into a separate savings account,” says Michael. Just as importantly, the directors have been able to reap the benefits of more efficient personal tax planning, with the relevant information available well in advance of any deadlines.
Director Gerald Yaffie is clear about the advantage of working with Figurit. “They are quite simply the best strategic thinking accountants that I have come across. The difference they have made to our business is the difference between clever thinking and the mundane approach we had before.”
He is also full of praise for the way that Figurit approaches its client work: “This has been delivered with an interest in our affairs and willingness to help that makes the service you receive all the more valuable.”
Property & Design – DesignSpace London
DesignSpace London is the capital’s leading destination for modern Italian living and iconic design.
The company specialises in modern kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and storage solutions, with retail premises in Wigmore Street in the heart of London’s West End. The interiors specialist also has an architectural showroom in Battersea, serving small developers as well as some large contractors such as McAlpine’s, Lend Leaseand Mace.
Its designs are to be found in stylish homes around London and in prestigious developments such as the Kings Gate development in Victoria by Land Securities, CIT’s St Edmund’s Terrace in St John’s Wood, and The St Martins Lofts, which are situated above Foyles Bookshop in Charing Cross Road and have been created from the original Central Saint Martins Art School building.
Established in 2005, DesignSpace London is involved in both design and installation, and has grown to become a £5 million company. West London chartered accountancy firm Figurit have been with them from the start, working with partners Piero Cassandro, who oversees sales, and designer Keith Atkins.
Figurit helped to structure the company at the beginning, providing invaluable advice and taking into consideration the individual directors’ unique circumstances.
“Despite the complexities of our personal financial and business circumstances, Figurit were able to walk us through the situation with clarity and patience; where necessary they were able to guide and advise us and deliver solutions,” Piero says.
“In this case, this allowed an offshore element to be built into the company structure,” adds Michael Lansdell, Managing Partner at Figurit.
Although DesignSpace London specialises in creating high-end interiors – the average value of one of its kitchens is around £40,000 – it is also subject to the same margin pressures as other suppliers operating in and around the construction sector.
“One way that Figurit have been working to improve the profitability of our business has been to highlight the margin we’re operating on, on a quarterly basis,” Piero explains. “In this business, it’s all about margin and Figurit have been really helpful in keeping our business profitable.”
Inevitably, however, defending margins can sometimes be challenging for any business. Chartered accountant Michael suggests that the business needs to work even harder to protect margins once a project is in progress.
Accordingly, the design firm has now hired its own fulltime accounts person while Figurit helped to smooth this process by defining a series of processes and writing a manual for the business. “We also helped to train her and got her up to speed. We continue to liaise with her on a weekly basis and support the accounts function,” he adds.
Figurit take a strategic view of financial management and work hard to protect the interests of their clients. In this context, the firm was extremely helpful in terms of ensuring that the necessary funding for growth was handled in the most tax-efficient and secure way possible, according to Piero. One issue was that the shareholders wanted to put funds into the business to help drive growth but also needed to protect that money as far as practically possible.
“We were able to do this in a much more secure way than a non-specialist would have been able to do,” Michael stresses.
“Figurit have been a major driving force behind our success,” Piero acknowledges. “The have been with us right from the outset and provided the financial and business management thinking we needed as we grew.
“They go way beyond simply supplying accountancy expertise and have been able to offer us genuine strategic help when we’ve needed it,” he concludes.