PROACTIS agrees collaboration with Inspired Capital

Walker Morris lawyers advise PROACTIS on agreement to develop an innovative accelerated payment solution

Specialist commercial and technology lawyers at law firm Walker Morris have advised AIM quoted PROACTIS Holdings PLC on its exclusive collaboration agreement with Inspired Capital plc to develop an accelerated payment facility (APF) for UK SMEs.

Wetherby-based PROACTIS is a global spend control and eProcurement solutions provider.  The collaboration agreement with Inspired Capital, a leading provider of customer-focussed financial solutions, will enable the parties to work together to develop an innovative market leading solution.

PROACTIS's eProcurement Platform is a Global Trading Network (GTN) that enables collaborative electronic trading between buyers and suppliers.  This platform will underpin the newly developed APF and Inspired will accelerate the settlement of suppliers' pre-qualified invoices. PROACTIS estimates that its c.500 blue-chip buying organisations are spending £60-80 billion per annum across c. 1 million SME suppliers, thus representing a significant market opportunity.

Research conducted by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB Dec 2014) suggests that almost one in five UK SMEs are affected by a 'serious deterioration of payment practices'.  The research suggests that buying organisations are increasingly exerting power on their supply chain with SMEs experiencing the adverse effects of extended terms of trade. This trend presents a significant opportunity for the provision of supply chain finance for SMEs, whilst allowing buyers to maintain their working capital position. The APF is an effective counter to this growing pressure on SMEs and will offer a solution to cash-pressurised companies at an affordable price.  As a result, PROACTIS and Inspired believe that the APF will have a high level of take-up within UK SMEs.

The APF is expected to be launched to potential customers later this year.  A commercial agreement, with a minimum term of 12 months, will be finalised ahead of market launch.

Rod Jones, PROACTIS' CEO commented:

"The market place is rapidly changing. Whilst our core principle of driving efficiencies in the procurement and settlement processes remains the same, the PROACTIS business is evolving from a buyer led software author to now include supply chain finance enablement. We are particularly pleased to be working with Inspired and believe it is a high quality partner for this collaboration. We are enthused by the value creation opportunity and look forward to realising that over the coming months and years."

Brian Cole, Inspired's CEO commented:

"We are pleased to announce our collaboration with PROACTIS and it is an important step in our ambition to achieve scale in the UK market. More than ever, UK SMEs are being squeezed by larger players in the supply chain. This new product will provide a powerful cash-flow management tool for companies in the UK and form a key part of our financing proposition for SMEs, further supporting a heavily underserved market."

Mike Stevens and David Laville, both in the commercial team at Walker Morris advised PROACTIS.

Mike Stevens from Walker Morris said

"The collaboration agreement is a fundamental building block which will allow these two companies to combine their industry leading technologies and expertise to develop an innovative, business-focussed solution.  The APF may provide a significant market opportunity for PROACTIS and Inspired, and a valuable service for SMEs. 

As a firm we've seen an increase in demand for our legal expertise in these specialist areas of technology and software development and the related issues of data protection, security payment software and regulation.  As retailers and software providers continue to innovate to streamline processes, we expect this to become an increasing area of focus for Walker Morris."

Long Rake Spar acquires Romney to extend reach into South East

Decorative aggregates supplier, Long Rake Spar Co. Limited, has been advised by a multi-disciplinary team at Walker Morris on its acquisition of Romney Holdings Limited.

Based in Derbyshire, Long Rake Spar is known for offering the most extensive range of specialised decorative aggregates currently available in the UK including: landscaping, resin surfacing, flooring, gravels, wall finishes, cast stone and de-icing salts.  They supply exclusively to trade, across a wide spectrum of industries, including builders merchants, landscapers & contractors, councils, highways agencies, and other industry sectors.

Trevor Broadhurst, Managing Director at Long Rake Spar commented:

"The acquisition of Romney Holdings was a strategic investment for us to expand our presence in the South of England.  The additional facilities will provide valuable storage and manufacturing capacity to enable us to meet growing demand for our products and continue to provide our customers with the excellent levels support our clients expect."  

A team of lawyers from the corporate and real estate departments at Walker Morris worked closely together to provide legal advice to Long Rake Spar on the acquisition. The Team comprised: Joy Irving and Ed Brown (Corporate), Scott Flint, Steve Nixon and Josh Kitson (Real Estate).

Walker Morris trainee is first to benefit from travel bursary as part of Firm's focus on talent engagement

Future Walker Morris trainee, Mark Scoles, is the first to benefit from Walker Morris' new trainee travel bursary scheme, which awards £1,000 to three of its new intake of trainees each year.

Mark Scoles is one month into his four month challenge to undertake a teaching internship program in Vietnam organised through ELC Vietnam.  Mark is teaching English at two local Vietnamese primary schools to classes of 40 children, plus at a local college and also private classes.  Having never previously taught a lesson Mark's experience has enabled his to develop strategies for communication and classroom management.  And as a dedicated member of the teaching staff in his placement school, he has fully immersed himself into both school life and Vietnamese culture. 

Read more about Mark's travel experience here.

The scheme is part of the Firm's longstanding commitment to recruit and retain sociable, motivated and talented individuals who can make a positive contribution.  Successful applicants must have demonstrated a desire to undertake charitable work and/or develop their commercial skills either in the UK or abroad. This could range from working at an orphanage in Thailand to working at a soup kitchen in a deprived part of the UK.

Nick Cannon, recruitment partner at Walker Morris explains:

"Mark's experience is inspirational.  Helping Mark to work and travel abroad and challenge himself will bring benefits to Mark on a personal level but also to our firm.   At Walker Morris we recognise that our success is a reflection of the quality, skills and personalities of our people. We are keen to support our trainees who are keen to develop a new perspective on the world and to develop their skills and their ability to cope with new environments and challenges. 

Undertaking such a personal adventure provides them with a greater understanding of the wider world, which not only makes them a well-rounded individual but also enhances their ability to deal with our wide ranging client base."

The bursary is part of a wider programme of support offered by Walker Morris to support its trainees and encourage inclusivity and diversity within the Firm.  Read more about our travel bursary scheme here.


Children's Calendar Painting Competition Comes of Age

Download the entry form here

Walker Morris announces the launch of its 21st charity calendar competition

Walker Morris is offering all budding artists the chance to win prizes for themselves and their schools in its 21st annual Children's Charity Calendar Competition.

The law firm's award-winning annual competition is open to all primary school-aged children in the Yorkshire, Humber and North East Lincolnshire regions.  Entrants simply have to paint a picture to illustrate their favourite month of the year and the winning entries will be used to make a calendar, sold in aid of Martin House Children's Hospice.

The winners will receive a hamper full of artists' materials for themselves and a cheque for £250 for their schools.  Runners-up will also receive a prize.

The competition will be judged by renowned Yorkshire artist, Ashley Jackson, David Smedley from Walker Morris and Dean Poole from West Yorkshire Printing. 

To enter, please send the painting with a completed entry form. To obtain an entry form, contact the marketing department at Walker Morris, Kings Court, 12 King Street, Leeds, LS1 2HL tel: 0113 283 2500 email: or download an entry form here.

All proceeds from the sale of the Calendar are donated to Martin House Hospice.

Last year, as part of the 20th Anniversary celebrations, the winning and runner-up paintings were displayed at The Tetley, in Leeds, as part of a week-long unprecedented public exhibition of over 260 paintings from across the 20 years of the Competition.  The Exhibition attracted 4,000 visitors and raised over £1,500 through an auction which ran for the duration of the Exhibition offering.  The auction was a one-off opportunity to purchase the paintings from across the 20 years of the competition with all proceeds going directly to Martin House Hospice.

Walker Morris appointed to major Manchester residential development – Manchester Life

Professional team appointed for Phase One development sites.

  • Professional team appointed for Phase One development sites. Detailed concept development underway for first two sites in Ancoats and New Islington, prioritised to complement existing community facilities and transport investment.
  • Local community engagement event held on 5 March to share initial plans to sympathetically develop Murrays’ Mill, one of the oldest surviving steam powered cotton mills, into high quality residential accommodation.

Manchester Life Development Company, the joint venture between Manchester City Council and the Abu Dhabi United Group entrusted to drive forward the development of Ancoats and New Islington, has appointed a world leading professional team for Phase One and held its first community event.

Phase One of Manchester Life, announced in June 2014, will provide more than 900 new homes through the development of six sites in Ancoats and New Islington, and builds on the regeneration activity that has been led by Manchester City Council in collaboration with a range of partners over the last 15 years.

The first two sites within Phase One - New Union Street, next to the Rochdale Canal, and Murrays’ Mill in Ancoats - are now in detailed design, with planning applications due to be brought forward from spring 2015 onwards.

Marty Edelman, Executive Chairman of Manchester Life Development Company, commented:

“We are really excited with the progress we have made with concepts for Murrays’ Mills and the New Union Street site. We have focused on preserving the heritage of one of Manchester’s most important historical buildings, and setting a new benchmark for residential accommodation in what will become one of the city’s most vibrant and well located neighborhoods.

“What we are creating really builds on the fantastic regeneration work already undertaken in the area, so it’s a priority for us to ensure we develop our sites in ways that are complementary to the local community. Yesterday’s event was a great success and we took on board really useful feedback that will help inform our planning submissions.”

Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council, said:

"Manchester Life is another chapter in East Manchester's regeneration story which began in the 1990s and was accelerated by the Commonwealth Games and Abu Dhabi United Group's investment in the Eithad campus.

“These will be quality homes which will help transform the eastern edge of the city centre and make a major contribution to Manchester's continuing growth. I'm pleased that this strategically significant project is making such strong progress."

The Phase One professional team includes:

  • Arup – multi-discipline engineer
  • Deloitte Real Estate – planning consultants
  • Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios – Murrays’ Mills architect (new office under
  • establishment to support Manchester Life and other local business)
  • KM Heritage – heritage consultants
  • KPMG – advisory services
  • MAC Consulting – construction, design and management coordinator
  • Mace – project management
  • Pierre Angulaire – program management
  • RTKL – architect for New Union Street
  • Squire Patton Boggs – corporate, property and planning legal advice
  • Walker Morris – legal advice on land acquisition