Significant growth milestone for Howarths as it advises on complex legal cases

HR, employment law and health and safety consultancy Howarths has announced that its managing director Gavin Howarth has become the majority owner of the business following the purchase of the combined shareholding of co-founders, Andy and Helen Howarth.

Gavin Howarth has increased his shareholding to 80 per cent, with finance director Tracey Hopkins increasing hers to 15 per cent.

The Cleckheaton-based firm’s head of employment law and business immigration Charlotte Geesin has also joined the board of directors with a 5 per cent shareholding in Howarths.

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“This deal marks a significant milestone for Howarths, as we continue to grow and advise on increasingly complex and challenging employment law scenarios for many large and established brands across Yorkshire and beyond,” Gavin Howarth said.

Andy Howarth from Howarth Foundation.

The firm, founded in 2003 by former detective constable Andy Howarth and his wife Helen, supports more than 600 businesses across the North of England and employs 27 staff.

Andy Howarth said: “The idea for Howarths started while Helen and I were sat on the riverbank at Burnsall. We were watching our sons Gavin and Chris playing in the river and decided that we wanted a better future for them when I retired from the police.

“I’d been in the force for around 25 years and recognised it might be difficult to secure a job when I retired aged 49, having left school at fifteen with no formal qualifications.

“So, aged 44, I completed my A-levels and then studied part time at university to complete my degree in law.

“The idea of starting our own business and working together was a massive risk, but one that Helen and I had talked about since our early twenties.”

In September 2018 Mr Howarth was diagnosed with bowel cancer. However, he successfully underwent treatment and has been clear of cancer but will be monitored for the next few years.

“This is our family taking the next step forward with our succession plan for the business, which will see Howarths remain family owned while securing the future for our exceptional team and valued clients, many of whom have been with us since the business started,” Gavin Howarth said.

He added: “While I studied law at university, my parents worked tirelessly to build the business. They had no previous business experience and just one computer in the front living room of our family home. Blood, sweat and tears went into getting Howarths off the ground, and through sheer determination, hard work, talent - and a refusal to accept failure - they built a hugely successful company.”

Back in 2017, the couple had launched The Howarth Foundation - a charity that looks to help individuals that have experienced homelessness back into employment. To date, the charity has placed 26 people into employment, 34 people into training, referred 17 people for housing assessments and supported several people into recovery from substance and alcohol addictions.

Gavin Howarth said: “I’m delighted that my parents will continue to run The Howarth Foundation and our Hidden Owls community projects and will therefore still be at the very heart of what Howarths is all about.

“I’m equally delighted to welcome Charlotte to the board of directors and as a shareholder and look forward to continuing working closely with Tracey as she increases her shareholding in the business.

“Both have been instrumental to the growth and success of Howarths, with Tracey having joined as our first employee in 2003 and Charlotte marking her ten-year anniversary with the business last month.”

The transaction was led by Paul Mann of Squire Patton Boggs, with accountancy advice provided by Paul Calvert of Calvert Dawson and Kevin Winterburn of Sheards Accountants.

Employment lawyer Charlotte Geesin, who is originally from Stourbridge in the West Midlands, joined Howarths a decade ago.

In 2019, she obtained a CILEx level 6 qualification in immigration law meaning she is qualified in both immigration and employment law.

Ms Geesin was recently appointed a visiting lecturer at the University of Law. She will teach employment law to students at the university’s Sheffield and Leeds campuses, in addition to delivering business modules and professional skills courses, including the recently introduced Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE).

“Lecturing is something I have wanted to do for a long time,” she said.