Ian Chambers & Jeff Brighty's Story

Background

Chambers & Brighty Funeral Directors have been providing funeral services in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, and surrounding areas since they established at the turn of the century.

Prior to joining forces and establishing Chambers & Brighty, Ian Chambers and Jeff Brighty, were both experienced funeral directors, having worked for Co-op, Dignity and a number of independent funeral homes. Both had been working in their community for nearly thirty years and been working together since 1989.

During their time in Wellingborough they, along with their long-serving team, have established close and trusting relationships with many families in the community. They also enjoy supporting the wider community, including sponsoring the town’s junior football team, the Wellingborough Lions. It’s abundantly clear that this partnership was very keen not to do anything that would change the reciprocal good-will that has been built up over the years in the area.

“Funeral Partners offered us the opportunity to continue working the way we did as an independent business, with lots of enhancements. They are investing in the premises and in the workforce. All in all its been a very positive experience and we’re looking forward to a great future for Chambers & Brighty in the community we’re so fond of” – Jeff Brighty

Considerations

The decision to talk to prospective purchasers of the business was borne out of Ian Chambers’ desire to retire in 2018. Both partners wanted their business to continue long term with Jeff remaining and Ian working on a casual as-and-when required basis.

Keen to make a decision that would ensure the security of all their loyal staff, along with their own positions in the business, Ian and Jeff researched a variety of options.

Continuity was key. Both Ian and Jeff were determined that whatever decisions they made to secure the future of the business their solid reputation within the community could not be affected. Nor could the social responsibilities, that extend beyond the immediate needs of arranging funeral services and supporting the bereaved, be diminished.

They approached a number of companies who were all interested in purchasing the successful business but as soon as Funeral Partners showed their interest, the decision was an easy one. This was largely due to the fact that Funeral Partners came across as much more ‘family oriented’ than some of the others and would offer that consistency that they were looking for.

In addition, Chambers & Brighty were very keen not to be re-branded in a corporate fashion, and quickly decided that even if they had a better monetary offer from another party, what Funeral Partners was offering was the right sort of deal for them. They looked forward to positive changes, but the business continuing to run with fundamentally the same ethos as it always had. Once Funeral Partners made an offer, the decision was straightforward and was made in just a matter of days.

The Logistics

In order to stem any mis-communication within the community, and wanting the staff to be comfortable with the changes, Ian and Jeff kept them informed of their position and decisions right from the beginning. This was really appreciated and although there was some early apprehension, this soon dissipated once Funeral Partners actually became involved.

There was a slight delay in proceedings, due to paperwork issues with the solicitors, meaning that the hand-over day moved from April to July, but as soon as Funeral Partners were involved, the process was smooth. Both Ian and Jeff note that they think it would be beneficial to the process if the solicitors and accountants involved had visited the premises so that they could acquaint themselves with all the factors involved.

Ian and Jeff were particularly grateful for the input of Jason Price and Peter Bates from Funeral Partners, and the fact that there haven’t been any major, sudden changes. Rather, it’s been a slow steady process allowing the staff to familiarise themselves with any administration changes.

Moving Forward

The staff at Chambers & Brighty really took the changes onboard in a positive fashion and have embraced the new opportunities presented to them. Ian and Jeff recognise that selling has delivered renewed investment in equipment, in the premises themselves, and also in the team which has grown with an additional Funeral Director recruited since the acquisition.

Funeral Partners also introduced their pre-paid Funeral Plans, Choice, into the business and the flexibility that these plans offer compared to some others has been appreciated.

From the community’s point of view there has been flawless continuity, and in their eyes nothing has changed. This is the best result that Ian and Jeff could have hoped for.

The Result

With the exception of one member of staff who was always due to retire, everyone remained in the business and they are very happy with the direction it’s taking. Funeral Partners have proved that they have no intention to change Chambers & Brighty into a more corporate operation by respecting the way that the business has been run to date, and continuing to present it in that way.

By changing things slowly and allowing everyone to walk rather than run there have been no negative side effects at all.

Two new members of staff have joined Chambers and Brighty, and everyone is looking forward to the future. Ian is fulfilling his plan to retire in September but will return to conduct funerals for those people who specifically ask for him to do so. Jeff will carry on in his role, now as Business Principal, and is looking forward to working alongside Jason Price who has helped make the transition so seamless.

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