Co-ordinated approach raises the bar for legal service
Thursday 19th December 2013
Many people may wish they could put themselves in their boss’s shoes and run the company themselves, but for Caroline Foster that dream became a reality when she traded in her job as a barmaid at The Walmer Bridge near Preston to become the pub’s landlady.
Caroline explains: "I had run my own business before and when the pub went on the market lots of customers and colleagues suggested I should buy it. I looked into it and decided to go for it, without really understanding the full legal complexities of buying such a business."
Caroline knew that the transition would not be easy and would involve moving her family into the pub as their new home, taking on the pub's employees as her new workforce and developing plans to take the business forward. Amongst all of this she needed to ensure that both the business transfer and lease agreement were handled with care, so when a friend recommended Marsden Rawsthorn to her she contacted the firm about managing both the business and property transactions.
Jo Wilcox, (pictured above) solicitor from Marsden Rawthorn’s commercial property team, explains: “The transfer of a pub into new ownership is a particularly complex transaction because it involves the sale of the business 'goodwill', along with the transfer of the property lease, which requires gaining the brewery’s permission and agreeing terms on the new operator’s tenancy obligations along with purchase of the fixtures, fittings and equipment. Because Caroline was taking on the pub with its existing employees she also needed to complete a TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment) transfer of staff.
Completing this type of transaction efficiently takes a co-ordinated approach across multiple legal teams. Marsden Rawsthorn was able to provide a seamless approach for Caroline to ensure that the business, property and employment aspects of the deal were joined up.
At the beginning of the process, Caroline met with the team from Marsden Rawsthorn to discuss what the legal requirements would be and to meet those involved in delivering each specialist element of the transaction.
Caroline continued: "Even though I’d run my own business before, I wasn’t familiar with the business and legal side of things. From the very beginning, Marsden Rawsthorn were great at keeping me informed and explaining the legalities in a way that I could understand without patronising me or bamboozling me. Regular contact meant that even when there were delays beyond our control, I always felt confident that my legal advisors were on top of things and working behind the scenes on my behalf."
To complete all the elements of the transfer of The Walmer Bridge, the Marsden Rawsthorn team had to co-ordinate and finalise agreements with both the vendor's and the brewery's solicitors, ensuring that each element of the deal fell into place at the right time.
Jo continues: "Marsden Rawsthorn deals with pub business purchases on a regular basis so we understand all the implications involved and have all the expertise within a single practice to manage the process. It’s really important for anyone considering buying a pub to seek expert advice as early as possible in the process. Breweries' conditions on long leaseholds can be quite onerous so it's important to have a solicitor that understands the sector and can negotiate effectively on your behalf, ensuring that you are protected against any discrepancies further down the line."
Despite the complexities of The Walmer Bridge deal, Marsden Rawsthorn completed all the transactions within just eight weeks and Caroline is now busy making the business her own.
"Thanks to Marsden Rawsthorn everything moved quickly and without a hitch," Caroline adds, "and in many ways it’s now business as usual because it's the same team and the same regulars in the bar. But I've really focused in on customer service and have been taking suggestions from both staff and customers, some of which I'm building in to plans for the pub to make sure it continues to thrive."
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