Lee Teste is a partner at Manchester-based consultant TMG Corporate Finance. His recent work has involved advising on Charles Evans Group's acquisition of Stockport Joinery and Stockport Windows.
Most acquisitions will be backed by external funders or banks. Backers will first of all look at the quality of a buyer's management and whether there's a bit of surplus in the management team. You need that surplus because an acquisition takes a lot of time and is a big distraction – if you are working flat out it could be a problem. Backers will also look at your track record, and expect a good profit history and cash flow for the past two to three years. With those two things in place you'll be 90% ready to go ahead.

Identifying your targets can take the longest time. There's no real rhyme or reason to it – you could find a seller first time or it could take 18 months. After you've found one it usually takes a further four to five months to do the deal.

The complexity of the due diligence process has increased enormously in the past few years and is the biggest change. There is a lot of new legislation to adhere to, such as environmental requirements, pensions and insurance. There are a lot more hoops to go through.

It's a buyer's market right now. Prices have come down in the last couple of years. But we are seeing more activity. The market has been consistent for some time in terms of interest and tax rates, which is good for funders and backers of deals. It means the volumes are coming back.