Optionis has acquired award-winning contractor accountancy firm, First Freelance Limited, and its sister umbrella company, First Five Projects Limited, which trades as First Umbrella. The acquisition will further strengthen Optionis Group’s position in the contractor accountancy and umbrella market, where it currently has a stable of six brands supporting clients across the UK.
First Freelance and First Umbrella, which were founded in 2013 and are based in London, provide accountancy services and an umbrella employment solution to contractors and freelancers operating in the UK.
The business is led by its three founders, managing director Mark Beal-Preston, commercial director Reece Harrod and operations director Carlo Fardella, and has enjoyed exceptional levels of growth in the past five years securing many leading industry body accreditations and associations, including FCSA, REC, APSCo, TEAM and Customer Service Excellence.
Following the sale of their shares to Optionis Group, the three founders will remain with the businesses to continue to scale their operations as well as support the development of the wider group of companies.
Derek Kelly, chief executive officer of Optionis Group, said: “First Freelance and First Umbrella are well-regarded, fast-growth businesses, which complement the existing group of companies we have within the Optionis Group. We are very pleased the three founders are remaining with the businesses to continue to drive their growth with our support, while also being able to provide valuable insight and leadership into activities across the group.”
Mark Beal-Preston added: “Working as part of Optionis Group will provide a significant springboard to build upon the market position and strong reputation we have already achieved. Reece, Carlo and I are looking forward to this next chapter in the growth of the businesses and joining a very dynamic and successful group of market-leading companies.”
Advice to the First Freelance and First Umbrella shareholders was provided by Ryecroft Glenton Corporate Finance’s Carl Swansbury, with support from Alex Simpson. Legal advice was provided by Fladgate’s Ian Brent and Diana Mennie.
Alex Simpson, Corporate Finance Manager at Ryecroft Glenton Corporate Finance, commented: “First Freelance and First Umbrella are positive examples of fast growth businesses that will benefit from being part of a larger, PE-backed organisation, which will support their scale-up ambitions and increase their market presence. Their focus on technology, in particular, has been a key element of their business, which will benefit the wider group.”