In April 2009 we decided it was time to put our business up for sale. The first step was to find a business transfer agent who could work with us to bring about a satisfactory result. There are many businesses offering this type of service from national companies like Christies to small regional businesses like the one we chose, Transagents of Hailsham in East Sussex.

The reason we decided to use Transagents was the professional way that they acted when we bought our business through them in 1989. We had occasionally spoken to them during the 20 years between buying and hitting the sell button. This helped us believe that they would market the business well and we would have a good relationship while it was happening.

The role of the business transfer agent

  • Pre-marketing: Advise on market conditions and legal issues (Fire risk assessment, energy performance etc)
  • Marketing: Preparation, Placement and responding to adverts
  • Negotiations: Advising option and negotiating on behalf of clients
  • Ongoing: Continual advise, chasing solicitors etc

Once we had agreed that Transagents would sell our shop there was some significant information gathering for them. The most significant being what it was we were offering to sell. In our case it was our limited company and the freehold property were it traded as well as living accommodation. We also supplied the most recent three years accounts, the current business rate statement and Council Tax statement. Then we had the energy rating of the building surveyed and an asbestos report drawn up. Our agent put together an information pack for prospective buyers and after some small amendments we agreed their content. We also needed guidance as to how we should present what we were selling when people came to view.

When the agent phoned to say that they had several people that wished to view we knew that this was real. The visits were all interesting and we received several offers, none of which were near enough to the figure we were looking for. To begin with we only offered the business and freehold for sale, but the economic conditions since 2008 eventually persuaded us to offer a leasehold sale. We did this in spring 2010 and again had a new flush of viewers followed by a steady stream of offers.

It was last December that we agreed to one of these offers but unfortunately the potential buyer withdrew in March. We again had viewings from more people interested in the business and one of these made us a good offer. My next post will be about what happened next.