Bringing businesses back to the brink


Mark Supperstone is Managing Partner at ReSolve, Specialist in Business Advisory and Investments

Mark Supperstone is a Chartered Accountant and Chartered Insolvency Practitioner in the UK at ReSolve. By preventing companies from going bankrupt, he has helped secure over 20,000 jobs during his career to date. He talks to BTN Europe about his travel work.

BTN Europe: Tell us about the nature of your business. Is travel a particular area of ​​expertise?
Mark Supperstone: ReSolve is a business, restructuring and investment advisory firm that helps companies facing difficult circumstances revise their business model and identify the best options available to them to restructure or exit the business. Travel has become an area of ​​expertise, especially since the start of the pandemic. We have worked with several travel agencies and recently closed our fourth sale of the year. In addition, I also advise three or four other companies in the travel industry at the moment and I regularly speak at seminars for accountants and trade associations in the industry.

BTNE: In addition to supporting companies that need to strengthen, do you advise on mergers and acquisitions?
MRS: Absolutely yes. We frequently conduct M&A activity for our clients, although much of what we do is primarily in the stressed and distressed space. We have spent many years building an excellent database of active parties looking to acquire businesses and we have a strong track record of backing up businesses and helping them avoid an insolvency process.

BTNE: When do business owners turn to you for help? The sooner the better?
MRS: Yes, the sooner the better. Too often, business owners approach me when their business is beyond the rescue point. I will always do what I can to help, but the sooner an owner makes contact, the better. There are often viable options to save a business and avoid insolvency, however, in order to achieve this it is imperative that we have the time to explore all possible alternatives. The main suggestion I always make to business owners is to take professional advice early on. I am always happy to speak to company directors, on a confidential basis, to discuss areas of concern and possible solutions.

BTNE: Tell us about some of the “projects” you worked on during the pandemic.
MRS: We worked with various travel companies during the pandemic, all of which resulted in some sort of sale of the business or assets. Earlier this year, we worked with a ski operator who found himself in financial difficulty solely because of the pandemic. The marketing process generated a lot of interest from buyers, which resulted in competing offers. After a short sales process, we were successful in selling the business and some assets, which allowed the business to continue operating and save the jobs of a number of key employees. We also sold the brands and intellectual property of another tour operator this year, as well as the brands and some assets of a family-owned travel agency in the South East, and advised on the successful sale of shares of another. travel agency that secured the future of the company and all employee jobs.

BTNE: What are the key requirements to be able to turn around a business?
MRS: Every business is different, but the key factor for us is time. Over time, we can formulate a plan and attempt to resolve the underlying issues. Company leaders must also adhere to any recovery plan and be open to change, allowing action to be taken in the best interests of the company as a whole.

Without government support, the number of travel-related companies entering some form of insolvency would have increased tenfold

BTNE: How has the government’s financial support affected things?
MRS: On the travel side, aids such as the rebound and CIBILS loans have largely contributed to saving some businesses. Almost all of the companies in this industry that I advise have, unsurprisingly, obtained some financial support from the government. Without government support, the number of travel-related companies that went bankrupt in one form or another would have increased tenfold, so the support undoubtedly had a positive impact in the short term.

BTNE: Did he just delay the inevitable for some businesses?
MRS: For many, yes, I think it will have delayed the inevitable – that is, the shutdown of operations – as the landscape for business and leisure travel has changed. On the other hand, however, it has given some companies the opportunity to keep their heads above water and see this bad patch and give them a fighting chance. It is important that these companies use the financing wisely and prepare budgets and cash flow forecasts to ensure that they can afford to repay the loan.

BTNE: Do you expect bankruptcies to accelerate as support is withdrawn?
MRS: Absolutely yes, but no one knows if this will have an immediate impact or if it will take time to materialize. Either way, it will almost certainly happen. There are a number of important factors impacting business right now, and not just the withdrawal of government support. We have supply chain issues, rising energy prices and a potential rise in interest rates, so a tough time could be approaching, especially for companies that are already finding it difficult. If a business thinks this will become a statistic and can see problems on the horizon, I would recommend that they take advice early on. Plus, there is nothing wrong with business owners having open and candid conversations with their creditors so that all parties can work together to improve their chances of survival.

BTNE: We have seen many small TMCs unfortunately go out of business during the pandemic. What makes them more sensitive?
MRS: Small businesses have fewer resources, which means they have fewer options for dealing with financial hardship. For example, for many smaller TMCs, marketing budgets are low and therefore promoting them to consumers, whether online or otherwise, can be very difficult. Essentially, without the resources available to market themselves sufficiently, they will still struggle to gain exposure against the big players, who likely have more liquidity and are therefore able to withstand longer periods of negative trading. Borrowing will also be much easier for larger companies, as they will have a lot more collateral against which to borrow.

BTNE: In some cases, their brands have been bought by competitors or bought out by owners. What is the strategy there?
MRS: The reason why competitors buy brand names is basically to increase their market share in that specific area. This usually happens after a company has, or is about to enter into insolvency proceedings, which means that it will buy the brand on better terms than it would have done under conditions. normal circumstances.Lately, with so much uncertainty, some owners have taken the position of buying back up a company’s assets with the aim of putting the business on the back burner for a period of time and thus keeping overhead costs to a minimum. while the market is quiet. As international travel begins again, owners will slowly begin to reopen the business to begin generating capital again.


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