Blacks Business Brokers: Reviews, Feedback, Complaints, Fees, Testimonials, T&Cs...
The company that refers to itself as Black Business Brokers is actually Blacks Business Brokers Ltd. Director names associated with the company over the years include Joanne Booth, Christopher Kenneth Rowlands, Gerald Augustine Anthony Murphy, John Gaskell, Philip Colin Gaskell, John Andrew Gaskell and Mathew Parkinson. See description later about links to other business broker firms such as Amberglobe Ltd and Turner Butler & Co.
The average number of employees the company had for y/e 31/07/17 was 36 (according to documents filed with Companies House).
This review was written in March 2018. Some of the information below may be out of date. You should always seek the most current information and conduct your own research; we've provided some links below to assist you. Please also see our guide to interpreting reviews.
Address: 17 St Marys Place, Bury, Lancashire, BL9 0DZ . There are 183 other companies registered at this post code.
Phone: 0161 763 5000
Social Media: They have a LinkedIn page with 17 employees on LinkedIn. They have a Twitter account with nearly 65K followers and a Facebook presence.
How they get clients: Blacks have a highly optimised website that performs well in Google and they seem to have invested considerably in SEO. They also use PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising. But we believe that a large chunk of their business comes from cold calling. They cold call businesses and claim to have buyers looking to buy businesses. Complaints of cold calls from, for example, 01618266106, can be found here. Their cold calling staff are expected to make 400 calls per day. Cold calling of business numbers is legal in the UK.
Information we have on this company: They claim on their LinkedIn page that they are "The Number 1 Business Broker with over 60 Years of expertise in selling." However, the company was registered only on the 16th of July 2008 (company number 06648404) which makes it just under 10 years old at the time of writing. Perhaps they mean that individuals in the business have a combined total of 60 years of experience rather than the business itself being sixty years old.
We have copies of Blacks Business Brokers' Terms & Conditions, fees, invoices, signed agreements, quotes, copies of their annual accounts and correspondence they've exchanged with previous clients. We have several examples of fees they've quoted to clients (and their fee structure). Some extracts from that information, and snapshots, are reproduced below.
Fees - example 1: £650 "advance" followed by a 5% "success fee" (subject to a minimum of £4,000) for the sale of a business listed at £200,000. There is also a "penalty" fee of £5,000 (2.5% of £200,000) to be paid if the seller pulls out of the transaction. Note that their penalty of 2.5% is on whatever price the seller is asking for the business (which is often far in excess of what sellers actually achieve). See image below.
Fees - example 2: £500 advance fee + 5% success fee (subject to a minimum of £4,000) and with the usual penalty clause ... for a business listed at £43,000. See image below.
Valuations: Blacks provide free valuations to business owners but the examples we have on file suggest their valuations are somewhat unrealistic. Note that Blacks don't refer to these numbers as "valuations". Possibly to avoid later legal challenge their contracts say, instead, "This is not a valuation but a figure for marketing purposes."
Company records, director information and financials (balance sheets etc): You can get information on this company from the free service at Companies House: Blacks Business Brokers Ltd. Blacks bought Abacus Business Sales, another business broker firm, in 2012.
Christopher Rowlands, a director of this business, is also a director of Abacus Business Sales (sole director). Mr Rowlands owns between 25% to 50% of the shares in Blacks Business Brokers Ltd and previously ran Kings Business Transfer (which he sold in 2005 for £2.5 million to the Dipford Group). Mr Rowlands and co-director Gerald Murphy, and their wives, jointly own the building where this company is based.
Blacks also operate under the name of Amberglobe and, possibly, other names. (A company called Amberglobe Ltd was renamed in 2015 to Owner Sellers Ltd and shares directors with business broker firm Turner Butler & Co).
Even ignoring the very mixed reviews publicly available, we have never felt comfortable recommending this company as, for one reason, we do not feel their contract is fair. More on their reviews and contract below.
Blacks does not seem to have a large number of reviews online - they don't have reviews on Yelp, Thomson Local, ComplaintsBoard, Touch Local etc., but we produce below what is available out there.
Yell's review page for this company has two reviews with an average rating of 3 out of 5. One is highly complimentary and says they did an excellent job. The other is below:
Trustpilot has seven reviews for this firm. As is the case elsewhere, the reviews are either the highest possible rating ... or the lowest possible. We do note that the company responds to negative reviews at this site and does often contest reviews with Trustpilot and sometimes require Trustpilot to remove negative reviews. Example comment posted by Blacks Business Brokers at the Trustpilot site: This review has been reported for breach of TrustPilots terms and conditions, as it hasn't been posted within 12 months of a genuine experience and therefore we have requested removal of this review.
But the most reviews are on Google Reviews. There are 146 reviews with an average rating of 4.6/5.0. They range from "If you're contemplating selling your business, find an agent that actually does what they say they're going to do, we completely wasted our twelve hundred pounds" to "Blacks ensured the whole process was a smooth and pleasant experience, they were brilliant" and "Quick and helpful communication. Not pushy but available to chat and answer questions!"
Blacks regularly respond to reviews posted at Google Reviews.
At Indeed there are five reviews from employees rating Blacks an average of 3.6 out of 5 as an employer. Some quotes:
"Worked there for 6 months and honestly did enjoy it, great group of people and did help when you had any questions, unfortunate exit though a little bit unprofessional as i had decided to leave and seemed to offend the management team...."
"very fast paced work place more emphasis focused on volume rather than quality . Making 400 calls a day cold calls business to business canvassing for potential clients looking to sell there businesses..."
"Excellent company to work for, I learnt so much from working here, the managers, directors and colleagues were great ..."
Blacks' have a page on their website where they've posted their own choice of testimonials.
The last accounts filed were for year ending 31st July 2017 and showed a net worth for this company of £57,590. Note that the balance sheet on its own does not provide a full picture of the financial health of a company. The company paid £224,493 in dividends to shareholders over the last year and £193,488 in the previous year.
Note: We do not provide legal advice but would recommend you have the contract vetted by a lawyer before signing it. There are several elements of the contract about which we feel deeply uncomfortable.
We'd draw your attention to clause 5. This is the clause that explains in what circumstances the vendor will have to pay Blacks' fees. If the business is sold, the fees become payable of course. But they are also payable if:
- one of the owners transfer part of their ownership to another of the current owners (5.iii and 5.iv)
- if the vendor grants a management agreement, franchise or licence to any party (5.vi).
Blacks can cancel the contract with the seller by giving 40 days' notice. The seller can likewise cancel the contract with Blacks by giving 40 days' notice but cannot do this within the "Minimum Period" (presumably within the first 12 months)!
The penalty for pulling out is particularly onerous we feel. If the seller changes their mind about selling it would appear they'd become liable for as much as 50% of the success fees they would have had to pay Blacks in the event of a successful sale. And this is calculated based on the price at which the business was listed (which in most cases is a highly ambitious and unrealistic price anyway).
Further, it would appear that if the seller grants a lease on the property he'll have to pay Blacks 10% of the next 3 years' worth of rent (clause 4)!
Errors & Omissions: If there is any information on this page that you feel needs to be corrected, or other important data that you feel needs to be included, please contact us.