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MEMBER NEWS MANCHESTER DIGITAL AGENCY OPENS MELBOURNE OFFICE AN INNOVATIVE Manchester agency is seeing the benefits of a pioneering move abroad to open an international office in Melbourne, Australia. Last year, directors Adam Pritchard and Ketan Mistry took the strategic decision to make the move into foreign territory, after three years of growth. In this initial period, it had built up a varied body of work, for companies including Subway, insurance brokers Chase Templeton, multichannel retailer Adacca, and Sofology. “The move presented a chance for us to stand out from the crowd, alongside a select group of UK digital agencies like INK and Digital Next who had taken the same step. A lot of business owners talk about doing this sort of thing, but are afraid to go for it. We thought it was important to be bold,” explained creative director, Ketan 20 Mistry. The Bolton-born developer flew out late last year to Melbourne with his young family to open the second office. He has since been negotiating a series of practical, professional and business challenges, in collaboration with the Project Octo’s Manchester office. From late night Skype calls, to the delegation of work via teamworking apps like Trello and Slack, the international team has had to navigate ways of working collaboratively across the globe. And with a support operation which is now around-the-clock, clients now call on the agency to answer their technical queries at any time of the day or night. “It has been an adventure since I made the move, from finding a home for my family, to setting up a business bank account and a legal company entity. I found it to be a real education in what it takes to make a company go international”, Mistry said of the move. In addition to this, the company’s technical team, headed up by Mistry, has spent several years developing an innovative ecommerce software platform, Shopit, which is ideally optimised for global firms, to run multiple sites, in multiple languages, all from one single dashboard. “Opening an international office has certainly been challenging,” said director Adam Pritchard, reflecting on the opening of the second branch. “But the software, business culture and the services we can now offer places us perfectly to support British businesses aiming to make that move abroad.” http://project-octo.com CHAMBER IS CATALYST FOR MERGER OF MEMBER LAW FIRMS The recent merger of Altrincham law firm McHale & Co and Middleton-based Sedgwick Legal was set on its way and given a good helping hand by the Chamber, where both firms have been longstanding members. The result is a merger that is good for the two legal practices that came together - and for Chamber members looking for convenient business or personal legal advice outside Manchester city centre. The merged practice covers Manchester from north to south with offices in Middleton, Heywood, Stretford and Altrincham. “Meeting on a Chamber-led initiative to explore how local law firms could best respond to the many changes in the legal sector in recent years brought key figures from the two practices together for the first time in 2010” explained Allan Carton, Director, Inpractice UK. That was Peter Carey, a former Rochdale President of Greater Manchester Chamber of Sedgwick Legal and Andrew McHale, the founder of McHale & Co. “Even then, sitting around the table with representatives from a good number of other legal practices that took part in those discussions, there was a clear synergy in Andrew’s and my thinking about the way forwards” says Peter Carey. In 2015, discussions on a Chamberfunded “skills review” prompted Allan Carton to put Andrew McHale and Peter Carey in touch again as the two practices clearly still shared very similar thinking about future plans to develop the business and people. “Our earlier contact made taking the first step in merger discussions very easy. Establishing mutual trust and respect in those earlier sessions gave us a head start, enabling us to explore the opportunity more candidly from day one than we could otherwise have done” says Andrew. McHale & Co was launched in 2001 by Andrew McHale; adding Heywoodbased Waldron & Schofield in 2011 and J Arnold Hancock in Stretford in 2015. “It has been good to bring all the partners and staff at Sedgwick Legal on board with this McHale & Co family of firms” said Andrew, adding that “We have demonstrated how mergers like this can be genuine ‘win-win’ situations for all concerned, including existing clients who have more services opened up to them. We are already talking to other firms and believe that we will be approached by more firms who see the obvious benefit for all being part of something bigger.” Roger Dennerly, Sedgwick’s Head of Employment and Litigation, has retired but the other partners, Peter Carey and Judith Dennerly, who have both been with the firm since the 1980s, have joined McHale & Co. McHale & Co employs 60 people. They provide complete one-stop legal services for individuals and for small and medium-sized businesses with specialist Polish and Russian departments and a specialist sports division for sporting professionals and clubs. www.mchaleandco.co.uk


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