Firms To Watch: Corporate and commercial: Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire

Based in Devizes, Wansbroughs brought on William Ingram-Hill in September 2021 to serve as practice head. The corporate team is now expanding its focus beyond its traditional expertise in landed estates to handle matters in the energy, media and tech sectors.

Corporate and commercial: Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire in South West

BPE Solicitors LLP

BPE Solicitors LLP acts for a client base encompassing both public and private companies on a range of corporate and commercial transactions. The firm’s corporate practice is headed up by Louise Grzasko, and includes advising on M&A transactions, investment rounds and share sales. In the private equity space, Adam Kean is frequently instructed on buy-and-build transactions, and the team’s work for public companies includes advising an increasing number of AIM-listed clients on placings. Iain Garfield is the key name to note on commercial transactions and advises on cross-border deals such as supply agreements. David Ashcroft joined the firm in January 2021, while Matt Jackson was promoted to partner in October. Dale Williams retired in December 2021.

Practice head(s):

Louise Grzasko; Iain Garfield

Other key lawyers:

Adam Kean; Anthony Rudge; John Workman; Matt Jackson; Kathryn King

Testimonials

‘Matt Jackson is exceptional. Great knowledge and experience and approach.’

‘The team is agile in its delivery of its advices backed up with practical and net advices.’

‘Kathryn King and Louise Grzasko are both knowledgeable and extremely responsive.’

‘Iain Garfield has a fantastic manner and has the ability to simplify complex ‘legal jargon’ and then discuss the pros and cons. Further, Iain’s response time is ‘second to none’.’

‘My experience of BPE centres around their commercial & litigation teams. So often, solicitors are too short-term focused trying to bill by the hour, while my experience of BPE is a longer term partner approach and one that instils more loyalty therefore leading to a greater return for both parties.

‘Iain Garfield is the best in the business at commercial contracts. Swift turnaround, sage advice, and commercially minded, Iain always provides a layer of security and feedback on key decisions within the business. Iain’s team perform in a similar vain and are therefore noteworthy.’

‘John Workman and Kathryn King were the two lawyers we worked with. Very competent, quick, clear guidance. Also, being a “smaller” law firm you deal with the senior partners and get the benefit of their expertise.’

‘Louise Graszko and Anthony Rudge always ensure we are supported by themselves and their expert teams. They are approachable and have extensive expertise to support us whatever our needs are A good sense of humour is also available which helps!’

Key clients

Partners&

DeepVerge plc

Sosandar plc

MyHealthChecked plc

REACT Group PLC

Totally plc

Location Sciences Group plc

Open Data Institute

Timber Development UK

Agria Pet Insurance

Warners Retail

Oliver Wight EAME

Sureserve Group plc

The shareholders of DAEL Ventures Limited and J B Towers Limited

BTC Hospitality Investments / SOHO Coffee Co

Winston’s Wish

LeSaffre UK and Ireland

Thomas Crapper & Co

Outdoor & Cycle Concepts / Cotswold Outdoor

Lifemarque

Motor Cycle Industry Association

CLEAN Linen Services

The management shareholders of ULTUMUS Limited

SPARK Advisory Partners and Dowgate Capital

The shareholders of The Retearn Group Limited

StageZero Life Sciences

Distil plc

Temple Finance / Brighthouse

CrissCross

Manthorpe Engineering

Burkert Fluid Control Systems

Work highlights

  • Continuing to act for Partners& on a number of further acquisitions this year, including the acquisitions of Focus Oxford Risk Management Ltd, Ives & Taylor Group Ltd, Kudos Liability Adjusters Limited and Health Matters (UK) Limited.
  • Acted for new clients, SPARK Advisory Partners and Dowgate Capital, (in their capacity as nominated adviser and broker respectively) on the initial public offering of Belluscura plc and the company’s connected placing to raise £15 million.
  • Advised CrissCross on investments from Saudi Arabia in order to finance the launch of its croissant-based cafes in the UK, including its initial stores in Soho and in Selfridges, London.

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP

Charles Russell Speechlys LLP is adept at advising on complex financings and corporate transactions, including cross-border deals. The practice is particularly active in the private equity space, where it acts for funds, portfolio companies and shareholders on acquisitions and disposals. The team also has a proven track record in handling deals for public companies. Practice head Richard Norton has a broad practice covering transactions and listings, with a particular specialism in matters involving the Middle East. Adrian Mayer and legal director Edward Robinson are recognised for their work on investments into the African market while Jonathan Morley focuses on deals involving private equity funds.

Practice head(s):

Richard Norton

Other key lawyers:

Adrian Mayer; Jonathan Morley; Edward Robinson; Matthew Hobbs

Testimonials

‘We value the strength in depth of the team.’

‘Richard Norton has exceptional commercial understanding, a practical approach to risk management and focuses on what is really important. Matthew Hobbs is an up and coming Senior Associate who is also able to cut away the noise and focus on the important issues in a deal.’

Key clients

Trifast Plc

Pennant International Group Plc

A Tsokkos Public Limited

Gulf Air

Actis LLP, and related Africa and Emerging market funds

Argo Group

Bank of Cyprus

Battery Ventures

Robert Hitchins Group Limited

Material Technologies Corporation

Work highlights

  • Advised the shareholders on the sale of Soundbitelearning UK Limited to Access Group.
  • Advised Metier on its investment in Africa Mobile Networks, a mobile operator in various African countries.
  • Advised US-based Material Bank on its acquisition of Clippings Limited as part of its expansion into Europe.

Gardner Leader LLP

Valued by clients for its ‘excellent service and significant expertise’, Gardner Leader LLP merged with Clark Holt in August 2021, expanding the Swindon-based team's corporate and commercial law offering. The practice is frequently instructed on corporate transactions, where Joe Lewis leads a group handling acquisitions, disposals and management buyouts, with additional expertise in standalone and pre-sale restructurings. Jeff Jenkins is another name to note on the corporate side. Peter James is the key partner for commercial work, assisting with drafting business-to-business and business-to-customer contracts. M&A specialist Philip Humphreys leads the overall business group.

Practice head(s):

Philip Humphreys

Other key lawyers:

Joe Lewis; Peter James; Jeff Jenkins; Belinda Walters; Gail Vallis

Testimonials

‘What I have always appreciated is that they treat you as an equal. Often you find that Lawyers can take the high ground and be quite pompous, Gardner Leader are not like that. In all my dealings with partners and associates I have found them approachable and friendly.’

‘I have worked mainly with associate Gail Vallis and Philip Humphries. Both offer good advise but more importantly will say, ‘This will cost you money and will it get you to where you need to be. This sort of advice is priceless and I think speaks highly as to their ethics. I have also developed a strong working relationship with them which of course is always good.’

‘Partners very attentive and happy to make themselves available at short notice. Very experienced team in commercial contracting that we know we can rely on to provide sound and comprehensive advice.’

‘Individuals are experienced in their respective fields and take the time to explain complex matters to enable the business to take informed decisions. Belinda Walters in particular has been exceptional in advising and representing us.’

‘It is the prompt and professional service that marks out Gardner Leader. We have direct contact with a senior partner in the practice and this individual has considerable knowledge and experience within the field in which we operate. Overall, the mix of excellent service and significant expertise is of high value to us.’

‘It is the mix of excellent, specific service and significant expertise that is of high value to us. In particular, Peter James is especially worthy of our thanks and respect.’

Key clients

KAM Project Consultants

Argentum Apothecary

Censornet

Cordell Health Limited

Clearwater Hampers Limited

Pirum Systems Limited

Kallidus Limited

Solverboard

Shareholders of GWP Holdings Limited

Swan London Limited

Rivar Ltd

Swift Logistics

Team Technologies Limited

Age UK Surrey

Milligan Limited

Wynne Jones IP Limited

Aptitude Software Group PLC

ESP Colour Limited

All Medical Professionals Limited

Jonas Software

Juice Moving Images

Work highlights

  • Advising the shareholders of the Great Western Packaging Group on the sale of the group to Macfarlane Group UK Ltd, a subsidiary of Macfarlane Group plc listed on the London Stock Exchange.
  • Advising Argentum Apothecary Limited on obtaining investment from China’s leading luxury brand management group, Ushopal.
  • Advising Kallidus Limited, on wide-ranging commercial contracts and general commercial matters, including data protection, employment and general commercial advice.

Harrison Clark Rickerbys

Harrison Clark Rickerbys offers clients deep experience in corporate law, including expertise in handling complex, cross-border transactions. The team’s transactional work includes frequently advising on deals involving private equity, representing shareholders and management teams in investments, acquisitions and PE-funded management buyouts. Tim Ward leads the team and focuses on M&A, with Richard Wilkey handling transactions involving venture capital and private equity and Derek Callanan a key figure on cross-border deals. Rachael Reeves is another name to note with a client base spanning SMEs, owner-managed businesses and portfolio companies; senior partner Richard Knight is also active in the owner-managed business space. Steve Thomas leads on commercial matters including joint ventures and intellectual property licensing agreements.

Practice head(s):

Tim Ward; Steve Thomas

Other key lawyers:

Derek Callanan; Richard Wilkey; Rachael Reeves

Testimonials

‘The Harrison Clark Rickerbys team have a broad range of expertise including commercial, real estate, transactions, GDPR and other disciplines making this a ideal one stop shop for all legal matters.’

‘Derek Callanan has given sound advice to the company and is not afraid to challenge the business to make the right decisions.’

Key clients

Ethos Capital Partners

SMI Group

Innovise

Cotteswold Dairy

Horizon Capital

Shareholders of Character.com

National Care Group

Mitsubishi Motors UK

Kason Industries

Secret Sales

Ethos Capital Partners

Spirax Sarco

Gloucestershire College

Safran Landing Systems

Jockey Club

Ground Control (previously Wireless Innovations)

Moltex Energy

Work highlights

    RWK Goodman

    The corporate practice at RWK Goodman advises on a steady stream of mid-market deals, acting on both the buy and sell-side. The team frequently acts on matters involving private equity, such as advising shareholders on sales to PE as well as handling PE-funded management buyouts. James Worrall leads the team from the firm’s Bath office, and has a particular focus on transactions in the financial services and care sectors. Hazel Phillips is another name to note in health and social care, while Katharine Mortimer offers clients deep expertise across M&A, restructurings and strategic partnerships. Associate Janetta White is also recognised for her transactional and restructuring experience.

    Practice head(s):

    James Worrall

    Other key lawyers:

    Katharine Mortimer; Hazel Phillips; Janetta White

    Testimonials

    ‘We like the fact that RWK are that classic “big enough to cope and small enough to care” firm. We have relationships with partners in commercial, litigation, employment, property, amongst others. They all fit well in the ethos of customer focussed and efficient practitioners. They also understand that there are sometimes tasks which are urgent and they react accordingly.’

    ‘Most of our dealings are with the commercial team, and James Worral is always excellent.’

    ‘Good local insight, very accessible, good depth of team coverage across all areas of our recent deals.’

    ‘They want to get to know clients and understand their businesses.’

    ‘My experience of the team was that they provided a full suite of corporate and tax services on a transaction that was fast moving, dynamic and needed quality legal advice to tackle issues on the transaction that were not ‘run of the mill’. The team excelled in a challenging environment.’

    ‘James Worrall was instrumental in identifying, predicting and resolving complex issues to ensure the transaction ran smoothly.’

    ‘Very pragmatic, solution-focused and speak plain English.’

    ‘James Worrall is a calm ship in a storm, works until the job is done.’

    Key clients

    Fidelius

    MJ Church

    Lancer Scott

    Orega

    Socomec

    Abbott Lyon

    Portobello Brewery

    The Jolly Hog Group

    Somerset Care

    Designworks Collective

    Work highlights

    • Advised the shareholders and management team of Hybrid News Limited (trading as Hybrid Media) on the terms of a private equity backed management buyout.
    • Advised the incoming management team of Portobello Starboard Limited (the investment company providing a route to market for Portobello Brewery) on the terms of their investment in Portobello, alongside funding from London based private equity house Zetland Capital to support the acquisition of 12 freehold pubs across the South East from Downing LLP.
    • Advised financial planning firm Fidelius Financial Holdings on its strategic partnership with deVere and the acquisition of Bath based IFA, Robson Taylor IFA.

    Mogers Drewett LLP

    Mogers Drewett LLP continues to be highly active in the mid-market M&A space, acting on both the buy and sell-side of transactions across a range of sectors. The team, led by Tom Webb, handles matters including cross-border deals from its Bath office. Webb has broad transactional experience, with recent work encompassing sectors including insurance, technology and retail; he is supported on these deals by associate Victoria Darvall.

    Practice head(s):

    Tom Webb

    Other key lawyers:

    Emily Eccles; Victoria Darvall

    Key clients

    Lloyd & Whyte Group Limited

    The Kaleidoscope Collection Limited

    Ascend Learning UK Limited

    OD Fire Limited

    Willmotts Transport Group

    Opium Power Limited

    A H Warren Trust

    Work highlights

    • Advised Business Choice Direct Insurance Services Limited on its purchase of Direct Corporate Risks Limited from Direct Insurance Group Plc.
    • Advised Stride Limited on the sale of Computer Quote Insurance to A-Plan Holdings.
    • Advised Knowledge Systems Limited on the sale of Knowledge Smart Limited to Eagle Point Software Corporation

    Solicitors Title LLP

    At Solicitors Title LLP, practice head Richard James provides clients with both corporate and commercial advice across M&A transactions as well as agreements with customers and other businesses. James is noted for his expertise in franchising, regularly assisting clients with commercial issues in this space. Technology is another area of focus for the Yeovil-based team.

    Practice head(s):

    Richard James

    Key clients

    Tintra Plc

    Adition UK Ltd

    Adopstar Ltd

    Love Outdoors Group Ltd

    Wellity Global

    UK Home Interiors Ltd

    C2 Business Solutions Ltd

    Purplebox Digital

    Sequel Agency Ltd

    At the Chapel

    IT Champion Ltd

    Work highlights

    • Advising Approved Franchise Association on the sale of its business and memberships to the British Franchise Association, the leading association for franchising in the UK for over 40 years – a landmark franchise deal.
    • Advising Adition UK Ltd on the restructure of its corporate joint venture with German media group, Prosieben AG.
    • Advising Adopstar Ltd on commercial arrangements with Mediaforce, in respect of it’s 1XL advertiser programme, which is made up of 38 publishers and over 600 local and regional online news publishing brands.

    Thrings LLP

    The corporate and commercial team at Thrings LLP has a focus on M&A transactions, where it acts on deals in sectors including hospitality, utilites and engineering. John Davies has deep experience in corporate transactions and co-heads the team alongside commercial partner Kate Westbrook, who is praised as ‘pragmatic and responsive’. Simon Hore is also noted for his transactional expertise and frequently works alongside Davies on deals. The partners in the firm’s Swindon office routinely collaborate with the Bristol-based team to advise clients.

    Practice head(s):

    John Davies; Kate Westbrook

    Other key lawyers:

    Simon Hore

    Testimonials

    ‘Thrings combine world-class professionalism and quality with clear understanding of local realities so that their clients receive practically-oriented advice in the most client-friendly manner.’

    ‘The Thrings LLP team punches well above its weight in commercial matters, easily matching larger London based firms in my view. The team is agile and understands its clients’ objectives well. This all translates into a very effective approach to delivery of its corporate and commercial services.’

    ‘Thrings LLP continue to go from strength to strength in terms of coupling robust legal advice with commercial pragmatism. Thrings are known in the region for being consistent in their ability to deliver good value for money with exceptional client handling and legal strength. They are an assured benchmark of quality in the region.’

    ‘My involvement with Thrings is on a single case in which they act for a global multinational. The case is technically complex. They have handled it with tremendous skill and are much valued by their client.’

    ‘The customer interface is excellent, they deliver on time, they explain things clearly and they understand our business. Kate Westbrook has been outstanding for us – thanks Kate!’

    ‘Kate Westbrook is pragmatic and responsive. A natural and very valued extension of our in house team.’

    ‘An all round strong team.’

    ‘Technically excellent, good communicators, strength in depth and easy to work with.’

    Key clients

    Whim Hospitality Group

    Shareholders of Pump Supplies Limited

    Truespeed Communications Limited

    Boost & Co

    HSBC

    Lovehoney

    GS Yuasa Europe

    World Fuel Services

    Compass Energy Limited

    Learndirect group

    Stonewood Partnerships

    Sothebys International Realty (UK Franchise)

    Work highlights

    • Acted as lead legal advisor on the sale of Pump Supplies Limited to Lakers, part of a Nordic group based in Oslo.
    • Acting for Texan based entrepreneurs Whit and Kim Hanks as lead advisor on the acquisition of England’s oldest hotel, The Old Bell, Malmesbury.
    • Advising Stonewood Partnerships Limited on their Regional Growth Initiative Joint Venture with Housing Growth Partnership.

    Willans LLP

    The corporate team at Willans LLP offers clients sector-specific expertise in technology, manufacturing, renewable energy and professional services. The group applies this knowledge to advise on a wide range of corporate transactions, including acquisitions, disposals, investments and demergers. Chris Wills leads the team and is praised as ‘highly knowledgeable, approachable and solution-oriented’. Paul Symes-Thompson retired in May 2021, while Rishi Ladwa joined the firm from RWK Goodman in September 2021.

    Practice head(s):

    Chris Wills

    Other key lawyers:

    Rishi Ladwa

    Testimonials

    ‘I found Chris Wills to be very personable. He explained tricky terms and clauses in laymans terms without being patronising. He was readily available whenever needed.’

    ‘They are responsive, the quality of the work is very high and they do offer an upfront fixed fee quote, which is very helpful.’

    ‘Chris Wills is highly knowledgeable, approachable and solution-oriented. He works in a collaborative fashion and provides concise, clear advice. His calm manner and desire to help make him stand out from competitors. He is commercially astute and understands both the corporate law side and the accounting side.’

    Key clients

    Sanderson Solutions Group plc

    MA020 Limited

    Philip Dennis Foodservice Limited

    Excelerate Technology Limited

    HAE Investments Limited

    Mosaique Creative & Marketing Limited

    Bridge Wind Management Services Limited

    Sue Ryder

    Minibus Direct UK Limited

    Randall & Payne LLP

    Sanderson Solutions Group plc

    MA020 Limited

    Work highlights

    • Advised the shareholders of Energy Fitness Professionals Limited on its sale to Totally plc.
    • Advised F & L Accessories Limited on disposal of business to Jupiter Capital Limited.
    • Advised Trade Mark Wizards Limited (a London-based firm of trade mark practitioners that has been listed as the top-ranked firm for filing trade marks in the UK based upon the number of applications filed) on an equity investment by Amsvest, an entity controlled by Lord Sugar.

    Wilsons

    The corporate team at Wilsons is instructed on transactions including M&A deals and management buyouts to demergers and investment rounds. The Salisbury-based practice is led by James Johnson, who has a broad client base spanning sectors such as technology, care homes, hospitality and manufacturing. Mark Cook is another name to note in the team and handles a variety of corporate deals, including a steady stream of mid-market M&A.

    Practice head(s):

    James Johnson

    Other key lawyers:

    Mark Cook

    Testimonials

    ‘There is a clear focus on the charitable/not for profit space and they live up to their reputation.’

    ‘Mark Cook shows a very close eye for detail and takes the time to ensure clients understand his advice – especially welcome!’

    ‘Excellent technical skills across a number of disciplines coupled with high class customer service.’

    ‘Very personable individuals with pragmatic ‘can do’ attitude’

    ‘We chose Wilsons because of their flexibility, you felt like they were an employee of yours and always had your best interests in mind. The were always accessible when needed. They always went above and beyond their day job.’

    ‘Mark Cook was always willing to go above and beyond to ensure he got the sale of my business through in the timescale required. Mark was also exceptional at ensuring that we understood all terminology and legal terms.’

    ‘The team were always available and could pull in whatever experience was required from within the firm. Unique in making you feel like you were their only client and able to explain legal concepts and arguments right down to layman’s terms.An extremely impressive and highly commercial team, with the ability to think outside the box.’

    ‘Mark Cook is an experienced and highly commercial M&A lawyer. Mark stands out from his competitors in his ability to become part of the internal team – flexing to fit where required – he felt more like an in-house lawyer. I cannot see us working with any other individual/firm in company sales/acquisitions in future.’

    Key clients

    The Real Wild Estates Company Ltd

    Per Ardua Associates Limited

    Expotech Holdings Limited

    Moore Kingston Smith

    Greensleeves Homes Trust

    Leathams Group

    Property Solutions Group

    Noverum Investments Limited

    Robert Brett & Sons Limited

    Moving Made Easy Holdings Limited

    M9 Group

    Work highlights

    • Advised the shareholders on the sale of Moving Made Easy Holdings to Simplify Group.
    • Advised The Real Wild Estates Company in respect of an investment by L’Oréal Fund for Nature.
    • Advised the shareholders of M9 Group on the sale of the company to Acora Group.