A brew and a chat with…Aquavision

In the first of our new series of client profiles entitled ‘A brew and a chat with…’ , we took a trip to the Stockport headquarters of one of the UK’s most innovative manufacturers.

Tucked away on an industrial estate in Bredbury is a business that experiencing huge international growth at the cutting edge of the competitive audio-visual industry.

How are they doing it?

In 1997, Aquavision pioneered in-wall and waterproof televisions.

Since making the world’s first waterproof television, the innovative team, led by managing director Alastair Benn, are now market leaders and have developed a vast network of professional partners worldwide.

It’s a real British success story lead by a man who started the business from humble beginnings in his own garage.  Soon after making his first waterproof television, he won his first order for a hotel project and had the entire family assisting him in boxing and dispatching the televisions.

Alastair Benn continues to drive the team forward and remains instrumental in the development of new, innovative products.

“Today, with the support of our distributors and industry relations, the Aquavision brand is well established and successful.  This fuels our passion to continue to produce high quality, luxury televisions.  We never compromise on quality and this is why we remain the number one British manufacturer of in-wall and waterproof televisions. We work hard at maintaining this reputation and we’re proud of the work we’re doing here.”

Now operating from 10,000 sq. ft. premises, the business exports 50 per cent of its sales to almost every country in the world. Aquavision serves four core markets: bathrooms, custom integrations, hotels and the marine industry.

Products range from 16” to the massive 85” screens manufactured onsite by a team of specialists. The hardware and software in the televisions integrates with all the main manufacturers and the business is successfully developing partnership with top-end audio brand Bang & Olufsen.

And how are they coping with Brexit? Alastair, is pretty confident that all will be OK:

“We’ve not been affected at all by the Brexit decision or the recent general election. We’re still growing, we’ve got an international outlook to business and we’re certain our European and Worldwide partners will continue to do business with us as long as we maintain our innovation and customer service. The exchange rate has been great for our export market and we see no reason why any business which strives for innovation and has a global outlook can’t succeed.”

For more information about Aquavision visit www.aquavision.tv

If you want to feature in ‘A brew and a chat with…’ email alison@alexanderknightaccountants.co.uk

 

Trio of new family-owned clients

We’re really pleased to have an outstanding reputation for looking after family-owned businesses. The word is clearly getting ‘out there’ in Greater Manchester and Cheshire as we welcome three new successful clients to our practice.

Aquavision Distribution Limited, DP Cold Planing Limited and a family run scrap metal business are a trio of successful North-West family-owned businesses.

Aquavision is a fast-growing business based in Stockport and is the number one British manufacturer of in-wall and waterproof televisions.

DP Cold Planing is a second-generation family business now run by brothers Anthony and Richard Prescott after being founded by their father in 1985.

In addition, we’ve also been appointed by a successful family run scrap metal merchant in East Manchester which has been trading locally for more than thirty years.

We’re delighted to be growing our client base of family owned businesses. All of these new clients are looking for better hands-on support and advice and value for money.

We’re even more delighted that these new clients came to us as a result of positive recommendations from other people who trust our people and services.

Family businesses need special care and attention as they pass from generation to generation. Not all accountants understand what motivates a family firm at different stages in its growth cycle.

We’re pleased to be reaping the rewards of being more aligned to the family-owned entrepreneurial mindset than our competitors.

If you know someone who runs a family business – and you think they should be working with us – please feel free to refer us!

, ,

General election: a calm and considered reaction

Well it wasn’t supposed to be like this. We were supposed to see a “Conservative landslide” and a clear mandate for a so-called ‘hard Brexit’.

Now the shock of the result is over, it’s worth taking stock and having a look at what the result means for you and your business.

We’ve spoken with many business owners within our own client base since the general election and it’s worth highlighting that they are all, without exception, taking a very stoic and pragmatic approach to it all.

Most say it wasn’t the result they were looking for (or expected) because they wanted to get clarity and stability during the Brexit negotiations.

Some people may be tempted to adopt a more cautious approach to completing deals (buying, selling or merging with other companies) over the next few weeks and months. It is important that entrepreneurs don’t miss out on deals if they are too good to miss.

There’s naturally a concern that the market stagnates in the short-term because confidence is such an important factor for people buying or selling a business. Things will settle down if the Government can secure some quick wins in the Brexit negotiation process.

Business owners wanted stability, certainty and confidence going into the Brexit negotiations and that has clearly not happened here.

The more cautious business owners will be delaying decisions, deals and expansion plans until the path of the Government becomes clear.

It’s important that the voice of business is heard during the Brexit process and the results of this election means that entrepreneurs will have to keep a closer eye on proceedings during the next two years than they had originally planned.

For our clients, we’re paying close attention to developments and we’ll be sharing our insights so you can make informed decisions for you and your business.

“Making tax digital” …so what?

A new term has been invented by the government to reflect the central role of businesses in the Making Tax Digital project – Making Tax Digital for Business – and a new acronym – MTDfB.

The government has decided how the general principles of MTDfB will operate. Much of the detail will be set by Regulations which are expected to appear in the summer.

Under MTDfB, businesses will be required to:

  • maintain their records digitally, through software or apps
  • report summary information to HMRC quarterly through their ‘digital tax accounts’ (DTAs)
  • submit an ‘End of Year’ statement through their DTAs.

DTAs are areas where a business can see all of its tax details in one place and interact with HMRC digitally.

When will this start?

Unincorporated businesses and unincorporated landlords with annual turnover:

  • above the VAT threshold (which has been set at £85,000 from 1 April 2017) will need to comply with the requirements of MTDfB from the start of accounting periods which begin after 5 April 2018
  • at or below the VAT threshold but above £10,000 will need to comply from the start of accounting periods which begin after 5 April 2019.

Businesses and landlords with turnovers under £10,000 are exempt from the requirements. Companies (and partnerships with a turnover above £10 million) will not come within MTDfB until April 2020.

What will quarterly accounting mean?

This is still the big question to which there are no definitive answers at present. The government has made some concessions from its original proposals including:

 

  • if businesses are using a spreadsheet to record data, they will be able to continue to use this for record keeping, but they must ensure that their spreadsheet meets the necessary requirements of MTDfB – this is likely to involve combining the spreadsheet with software
  • the requirement to keep digital records will not include an obligation to store images of invoices and receipts digitally. Under the original proposals, HMRC envisaged that a digital record would include not only a record of each item of income and expense but also evidence of each transaction such as copies of invoices and receipts.

Once all the relevant data for a quarter has been compiled into the software, the business will then feed this data directly into HMRC systems. The information that will be sent to HMRC will be summary data for the quarter, not all income and expense items. Businesses will have one month from the end of the quarter to submit the update to HMRC.

Why is all this important to you?

It’s important to you. But, it’s not particularly interesting or relevant – because naturally you are getting on with the job of running your own business.

It’s more exciting for accountants to discuss the issues and the merits of this than it is for our clients. We prefer to talk to our client in a straightforward and practical manner – so using confusing acronyms like MTDfB is, in our view, totally unhelpful to small and medium sized businesses.

So, the key message from all this ‘making tax digital’ is – let us take care of all this and we’ll make sure your business takes advantage (where there is any) of these slowly meandering initiatives being introduced by the taxman.

, ,

If you are a landlord (no, not the pub type) …you need to read this

It was almost two years ago in the Summer Budget 2015 that the then Chancellor, George Osborne, announced restrictions to income tax relief for interest costs incurred by landlords of residential properties. The proposals became law in November 2015 but it is only from the 6 April 2017 that these provisions came into effect.

In the 2017/18 tax year, the restriction of interest relief to basic rate of tax will apply to 25% of the interest with 75% of the interest getting relief against rental income in the normal way. Landlords will therefore first see the effect in the calculation of their tax liabilities for 2017/18 – the balancing payment for which is due 31 January 2019. A higher rate taxpayer will, in principle, get 5% less relief for finance costs (i.e. one quarter of 40% higher rate less 20% basic rate).

5% doesn’t sound much but it can be worse than this due to 25% of the interest not being deductible from income. So, total income may cross a threshold such as:

  • £50,000 – in which case Child Benefit may be clawed back
  • £100,000 – in which case personal allowances may be reduced.

The restrictions are only going to get worse, so please talk to us if you want clarification on any aspect of these rules.

HMRC’s Making Tax Digital project also has an impact on many property businesses from 6 April 2017. The government considers that all unincorporated businesses except for the larger property business will benefit from using the cash basis rather than the usual accruals basis and so is proposing to make this the default basis.

The cash basis means the business accounts for income and expenses when the income is received and expenses are paid. The accruals basis means accounting for income over the period to which it relates and accounting for expenses in the period in which the liability is incurred.

Property businesses will remain on the accruals basis if their cash basis receipts are more than £150,000. The cash basis also does not apply to property businesses carried out by a company, an LLP, a corporate firm (i.e. a partner in the firm is not an individual), the trustees of a trust or the personal representatives of a person.

The government proposals are that the cash basis will first apply for the 2017/18 tax year which means that your tax return for 2017/18, which has to be submitted by 31 January 2019, will be the first one submitted on the new basis.

There will be an option to elect out of the cash basis and stay with the accruals basis and we are here to help you make a decision on this later in the year.

New car tax rates

If you have recently purchased or are in the process of buying a new car, you will know that new rates of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) apply for purchases of cars first registered on or after 1 April 2017.

Most of the rest of the population may be surprised how significant the changes are. The big changes are the charges that apply in the year of purchase of the car. As with the system that applied to cars registered before 1 April 2017, the charges are based on CO2 emissions but the new charges are typically much higher than under the old system. For example, a car with CO2 emissions of 175 jumps from £220 to £800.

But in year two, the new system swings in favour of such a car owner as the charges are not based on CO2 emissions. If the car runs on petrol or diesel there is a fixed charge of £140 and an additional rate of £310 if the car has a list price of more than £40,000.

In percentage terms the purchasers who are most affected are people who buy low emission cars. For a petrol or diesel with 120 CO2 emissions, you would have paid only £30 a year.

For new cars, the charge is £160 in year one and £140 in subsequent years. Note that a purchase of second hand car such as an ‘ex demo’ continues with the VED system in operation when the car was first registered.

So, such purchasers are tied into the old VED rates. You can get details of the new (and old) VED rates at www.gov.uk/vehicle-tax-rate-tables

 Speak to our team if you want to make an informed decision on your next company car (or personal) purchase.

 

,

Say hello to Mary Page

Mary Page joins Alexander Knight & Co

We’re delighted to announce the expansion of our team with the recruitment of Mary Page as assistant accountant today.

Mary, who hails from Middlewich in Cheshire, joins us at a time of impressive growth as new clients continue to be referred to our practice. We’ll announce news of more new clients signing up to Alexander Knight & Co soon. 

With the increase in the number of clients we’ve won so far this year it is important to make sure our back office operation is up to strength so we can continue to deliver for our clients.

We’re pleased to welcome Mary Page to the team as assistant accountant. Mary brings with her a great attitude, exceptional skillset and she will be a great asset as we continue to grow our client base of entrepreneurs.

Mary Page, assistant accountant at Alexander Knight & Co, said:

I’m delighted to join Alexander Knight & Co at such an exciting time. I’m looking forward to working in the newly expanded office space and making a positive contribution to our clients and the practice.

Welcome to our team Mary!

,

Matt Davies: Secret Diary of an Entrepreneur March 2017

matt davies ceo tesco murray patt

We were delighted to welcome Matt Davies, CEO of Tesco UK & ROI as our special guest at our latest ‘Secret Diary of an Entrepreneur’ event in Altrincham. We decided to host the event at the brilliant Con Club in Altrincham where guests were treated to a delicious breakfast – and some pearls of wisdom from one of Britain’s brightest businessmen.

Matt Davies is a truly remarkable business leader. An incredible CV, engaging personality and amazing stories to tell, our guests were impressed and inspired by his approach to business.

We’re hosting more ‘Secret Diary of an Entrepreneur’ events – so sign up to our mailing list if you want to be at the next one!

, ,

Auto enrolment: are you ready?

Speak to us about auto enrolment options

Nearly 600,000 small employers reach their staging date for auto-enrolment during 2016/17, and a further 1.1 million new employers stage in 2017/18.

Most of our clients are turning to us to help them comply with these new pension regulations.

If you haven’t taken action yet – you really should speak to us.

Advising employers on workplace pension schemes is time consuming, risky and challenging if you don’t get proper advice from us.

We’re on official partner with Workplace Pensions Direct, which enables us to offer all of our clients – without exception – a comprehensive and affordable auto-enrolment package, from initial assessment right through to declaration of compliance, and beyond.

Make sure you comply with the new regulations – and speak to our team now.

 

Secret Diary of an Entrepreneur: Matt Davies, CEO of Tesco

Matt Davies the CEO of Tesco joins us at Hale Wine Bar

Alexander Knight & Co is excited to host an exclusive breakfast event on the morning of Friday 31st March. This will feature a candid Q&A session between Matt Davies, CEO of Tesco UK & ROI and our founder Murray Patt.

Matt is one of the youngest Chief Executive’s that Tesco has ever had although this is by no means his first major management role. He was previously CEO of Pets at Home for 8 years and Halfords for 3 years.

Manchester born and bred, he will discuss the challenges, inspiration and experiences that he has encountered on his impressive ascent to the top.

It’s a valuable opportunity to hear from one of the country’s leading business figures, enjoy a breakfast and network with like-minded business owners and company directors in the heart of Cheshire.

Tickets are strictly limited, so please contact alison@alexanderknightaccountants.co.uk now, to book your place & get further details.