Name of business:
Phil Brown, Phil Sharp and Steve Bray
Retail and commercial fit-outs
Head office Blackburn. Nationwide operation
how we can help you
Starting up your own business requires a lot of commitment, energy and resources. You need a basic knowledge of many things and the ability to identify when you are out of your depth and need to ask for help! We have helped many businesses develop from new business start-ups to very successful companies. We can help you to consider issues such as:
- Your business, its products and services
- Your competitors
- Your management and operations
- Accounting systems
- Your business structure
- Financial forecasts
- Your business plan
- Negotiating with the bank
an audacious new business!
BEING in the construction industry during the worst recession in 60 years might sound like bad news. But if you deliver the highest quality of work and have a positive outlook you can buck the trend.
Audas is a relative newcomer in the fit-out business and is determined to build on its success. The company started the year as it means to go on by taking on four new members of staff in January 2009. Its turnover in 2008 was £8million and this year it is looking to achieve a £10million turnover. As director Phil Brown says: “We are successful because we do an excellent job and employ outstanding people.” Its clients include retailers Marks & Spencer, Asda, and Somerfield.
"Our business is all about relationships and building up trust. Happily this trust extends to our relationship with Cassons. They give us a fantastic service!"
Phil Brown, Director, Audas
The company was set up in March 2007 by Phil Brown, Steve Bray and Phil Sharp. Phil Brown and Steve met 10 years ago when they worked together on a number of Marks & Spencer’s projects. Between them, they have been responsible for major projects such as the refit of the Manchester Marks & Spencer when the store split with Selfridges and the conversion of the C & A store at the Trafford Centre in Manchester to Marks & Spencer. Phil Sharp met the others about 5 years ago after being recommended to them by Somerfield. The trio came together when they all worked at Morris & Spottiswood during its heyday and the three built up a successful and profitable team delivering for a number of the high street’s leading retailers. But when they were told to reduce their targets for the next year the enterprising team decided it was time to move and set up on their own. So although Audas is a new company its directors have a wealth experience at the highest level in the refit industry.
As a fit-out and refurbishment specialist Audas employs a core team of project managers and quantity surveyors. “We can only achieve the best because we employ the best,” explains Phil. “It is more than a way of life to us; we all live and breathe every project. If you don’t enjoy what you do, then you shouldn’t do it.”
Phil continues: “Our industry is all about relationships. Clients such as Asda and Marks & Spencer trust the men we employ.” This trust extends from the 3 directors to their project managers and ultimately their tradesmen. Audas does not directly employ its own tradesmen. As Phil explains: “Our skill is to manage, coordinate and organise, so we procure on a subcontract basis as needed.” He continues: “We have developed very strong relationships with a number of our subcontractors, many of whom we have worked with for a lot of years. Those relationships are built on mutual respect, trust and commitment. In fact when our Health, Safety and Environmental manager is organising training for Audas staff, he always includes our subcontractors as we think of them as part of our extended family.”
Skills in ‘live trading environments’ is another Audas strength. Customers carry on shopping as usual at the Leeds Marks & Spencer store while Audas carry out the 18-week refit at night or behind hoardings. “You have to communicate efficiently and be extremely well organised to keep the client and customers happy by minimising disruption while satisfying health and safety issues.”
Environmental issues are of course very important. Marks & Spencer are clearly focused on environmental matters and Audas ‘embraces the ethos’ rather than being fazed by it. Audas stick to the firm’s target of recycling a minimum of 85 percent of everything it strips out. Phil says: “We are conscious of our carbon footprint and maximize the use of sustainable timber.”
Audas have already secured orders of over £6 million for the first half of 2009 which include the refurbishment of the main Marks & Spencer store in Leeds and the building of a special exhibition at Leeds University for Marks & Spencer to commemorate 125 years as well as contracts with Asda. The firm has more projects in line for the second half of the year but it is wary about taking on too much work. Phil explains: “We know what we are good at and stick to that. We will turn work away if it is not up our street. If we don’t do a fabulous job we will lose our reputation and as most of our work is negotiated based on our performance it is imperative that we deliver. Companies fail because they take on too much, but do not have enough quality guys to do the job. We do not want to over-extend ourselves.”
"They are a great bunch of guys. They know exactly what they are doing and they do it well."
Carlton Cooper, Partner, Cassons
As a firm with big ideas and aspirations, the Audas directors looked for a firm of accountants who think along the same lines. Phil says: “We heard Cassons had a good reputation and found Carlton very enthusiastic when we went to see him. We have had great service from Carlton.”
“They are a great bunch of guys” said Carlton Cooper. “They know exactly what they are doing and they do it well.” Audas had taken the first steps towards setting up when they brought Cassons in to help them but Carlton made sure that all of the basics were covered. “In our first meeting we had a very thorough discussion on the shareholders agreement, salary and remuneration packages, business protection insurances, company year end and VAT issues.” Carlton also ensured that their accounting systems were set up correctly. “I arranged for our Business Support manager to come in and discuss their exact requirements. Joanne was able to ascertain which version of Sage would be best for them so we ordered it and then installed it for them. Joanne went along a few times afterwards to make sure that everything was working properly.”
On an ongoing basis Cassons look after their annual accounts and audit but contact takes place at least every two weeks. “Phil runs a lot of issues past me and I am always delighted to help. I make sure that we have a catch up chat every month.”
“In the last 18 months we have set up pension schemes for all employees through Cassons as well as death-in-service and health schemes for staff,” continued Phil. Audas has also worked with Colin Tice on a scheme offering shares in the business to key employees.
Phil says: “Our business is all about relationships and building up trust.” Happily this trust extends to its relationship with Cassons.
Why was the firm called Audas? The name was inspired by the audacity the team demonstrated to start the business!