Operating in the commercial energy sector, Houghton-le-Spring-based Direct Business Solutions offers energy procurement and management services to thousands of businesses across the UK.
We sat down with Finance Director Michael Fitzpatrick, who joined the company in early 2022, to discuss how UNW has supported its growth over the last few years.
Established in 2017, Direct Business Solutions has enjoyed rapid growth over its relatively short history, recording a turnover of over £19m last year. With a 150-strong team, the company serves customers mainly in the SME and mid-market area, from small businesses to household names, ensuring they understand more about their energy usage and providing cost-effective solutions to their procurement and energy management needs.
Seeking something different from the services of its previous advisors, an introduction to UNW in 2019 prompted a change of approach for the business, leading to a fruitful partnership that has seen Direct Business Solutions go from strength to strength in the proceeding years.
When asked to discuss the quality of the service UNW has provided, Michael smiles: “This is an easy thing to do.”
“We were fortunate to be introduced to UNW at a time when the business had been looking for a more tailored service to fit its needs. We wanted a firm that was able to spend more time learning about our business and building a better relationship with us; understanding more about our ambitions and, ultimately, helping us get to where we wanted to go. In the time that we’ve been involved with them, I’m delighted to say that that’s exactly the kind of service we get from UNW.
“Not only is the advice of good quality, but it’s also given in the context of knowing our business and knowing what’s right for us. And that advice has helped us grow. And as we’ve grown, the advice we’ve received has changed and become more appropriate and relevant to us at each different stage of our journey.
“It was immediately clear from our initial meetings that the team at UNW are not only competent professionals, but that they also take time to understand what’s relevant to us.”
Speaking of the relationship he has with UNW’s Accounting Services Senior Manager Andrew Wimshurst, Michael says: “If we ever need advice, he’s always at the end of the phone, and he regularly visits our site. He has built up a great relationship not only with me and the finance team, but also with other members of the business like the senior directors and the Managing Director, becoming a respected and trusted business partner.
“People may think that accounting services is all about ‘unexciting’ compliance work, but UNW’s work for us has proven that it can also be about helping deliver more value. And that’s something that isn’t easily replicated.”
Initially enlisting UNW as its outsourced accountants, Direct Business Solutions has also tapped into the specialist advice prominent across the firm, a benefit that hasn’t gone unnoticed: “We like the fact that UNW offers a broad range of services” Michael says. “We use them for accounting services and tax advice, and we’re in discussions about UNW becoming our auditors too. Having that range of support available to us under one roof really sets them apart.”
Asked to sum up his experiences so far with UNW, Michael says: “It’s easy to speak positively about the service we’ve received from UNW. Not only have they helped us realise our ambitions, but they have also taken a real interest in our business, and that isn’t like others. With UNW you don’t feel like a number.”
Not only is the advice of good quality, but it's also given in the context of knowing our business and knowing what's right for us.