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'Fresh start' for Bolton firm

'Fresh start' for Bolton firm


Asons under new ownership as director repays £300,000 council grant in full

A Bolton-based personal injury firm has returned a controversial £300,000 grant to the local council after being threatened with legal proceedings.

Asons Solicitors ceased trading on 24 March following an announcement that the firm had been sold to Coops Law, the trading name of an alternative business structure, Banks Solicitors, owned by Irfan Akram.

Asons’ accounts have revealed that the firm had losses of more than £1m for the year ending May 2015 and has been challenging a £300,000 tax demand from HMRC.

The PI firm had moved into new headquarters in June 2016, purchasing the four-storey Newspaper House building in Bolton’s town centre for £1.1m.

Asons was awarded a grant under Bolton council’s emergency powers procedure to ‘assist in the development costs associated with the refurbishment and occupation’ of the property.

The five-year grant was conditional on Asons occupying the property with at least 80 per cent of its staff and pursuing ‘all reasonable endeavours’ to use local labour and materials in its refurbishment.

According to The Bolton News, the refurbishments included the creation of a games area, coffee shop, and roof terrace for the firm’s employees.

With Asons’ announcing it had ceased trading, the terms of the grant were said to be breached. However, Kamran Akram, a former director, paid the £300,000 back in full on 28 March.

In a statement, Asons confirmed that ‘all employees have been TUPE’d to Coops Law and there will be no job losses’. The firm’s chief executive, Dr Imran Akram, has, however, ‘left the business’.

In 2014, Dr Akram launched a contest to find an unsung hero from local charities, and to reward their hard work by offering the winner a driving experience in his 202mph Lamborghini Huracan. That same year, Dr Akram told his Twitter followers that he was on in his sixth Lamborghini in four years.

An Asons spokesman said: ‘This is a fresh start for everyone – the employees and the people of Bolton.’