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Business-sales insight: 2012 review and the year ahead

Podcast interview with...

Rupert Cattell, Managing Director of Turner Butler and Amberglobe
Topics covered:
Review of 2012; 2013 so far; trends to watch out for throughout 2013; popular sectors among business buyers; the diverging fortunes of traditional retailing and e-commerce
First became a director 15 years ago at the age of 41. His most recent non-secretarial directorship is with Turner Butler Limited.
Amberglobe specialise in the selling of care homes, day nurseries and retail businesses. Turner Butler specialise in selling all businesses on business parks and industrial estates.  

Rupert Cattell reviews 2012 in the business-sales marketplace...

"2012 was a slow bump along the bottom with a gradual, fairly slow rise away from the bottom of the swimming pool. It started fairly slowly and there were some fairly green shoots of recovery and some hope. 

"But it was fragile and pretty much broke down again to where it had been.

"And I would say that probably from about October 2012 things have started to improve. There is a groundswell of improvement and it seems much stronger and more sustainable than the earlier recoveries."

On 2013 and whether momentum can be maintained...

"Yes, I think so. We've started the year very strongly. There's been a lot of activity both on the buyer side and on the sell side, and talking to the valuation firms, they are certainly talking about the banks starting to lend more freely and credit becoming more available. So I have high hopes for 2013.

"I don't think there's going to be massive activity - it's going to be slow but steady. It's going to be 2-3 years before we see more substantial improvements. 

"Banks tend to lend heavily to certain sectors and once they've lent their allocated funding they move out of those sectors. As a consequence it's difficult to see any continuous stream of funding. 

"But I think in the last 2-3 months general funding has started to improve. 

"That being said, the business case still has to stack up. The business being bought has to be robust and, most importantly of all, the purchaser must have a good track record and credit history.

"If some of those boxes are not ticked then I think funding is still pretty difficult."

On trends to watch out for in 2013...

"We have seen quite a lot of activity from foreign buyers, who are coming in and buying a wide cross section of businesses and I think that's because of the weakness of the pound. Particularly as Canada North America and Australia improve I think we will see a bit more shopping going on from those foreign buyers.

"Also, we are seeing the fallout of the redundancies in the city and we are seeing many ex financial services people looking to buy businesses."

On the most popular sectors right now...

"There is lots of interest in manufacturing, engineering, technology, marketing and recruitment businesses, which are definitely on the up and in demand. 

Retail remains very challenging, although e-tailing, on the other hand, has a lot of interest. There's a major shift going on between retailing, in the traditional sense of the word, and e-tailing."

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