About the UK’s leading employment company

Former IT contractor, Rob Crossland, founded Parasol as a direct result of becoming totally frustrated with the mountains of paperwork and sheer hassle involved with freelancing. He had a gut feeling that any company that could help freelancers and contractors make the most of their money whilst minimising the hassle had to be a sure-fire winner. And he was right.

Rob’s years of contracting also gave him a healthy respect for the tax man and the importance of keeping on the right side of the law. That’s why his vision for Parasol involved always doing what’s right, not what’s easy for its employees, interpreting HMRC legislation in a whiter than white way that allows our employees to sleep at night.

 

Parasol was formally launched in 2000 and rapidly built a healthy base of employees, largely by developing partnerships with the recruitment agencies that place them. Since then, it has looked after the needs of some 70,000 employees and this figure continues to increase as the company expands into new market sectors across the UK. Parasol maintains impressive partnerships with 2,500 recruitment agencies including industry leading companies such as Hays, Alexander Mann Solutions, Capita Venn, Reed, Impellam Group and Lorien.

Going from strength to strength

Our employees and recruitment agency partners often comment about the outstanding quality of Parasol’s head office people. The company’s recruitment policy of hiring qualified accountants, talented payroll professionals and lovely people to answer the phone ensures our employees don’t have to worry about getting paid.

In November 2006 Rob led an MBO of Parasol, backed by the private equity firm, Inflexion. Following which, Parasol was soon enjoying an average annual turnover growth of 20%.

In 2008, ever looking for more opportunities, ClearSky Accounting (the new name for Quay Accounting) was brought into the Parasol Family. This Limited company and contractor tax specialist shares the same values and prides itself on excellent client service.

Silverline was acquired in 2010 and is the only sales performance management software of its type, designed specifically for the recruitment industry.

In 2012, ClearSky broadened its vision to become the leading provider of business support services to start-ups and existing small businesses. As a result, in July 2012, ClearSky launched ClearSky HR to provide expert advice and support from CIPD qualified advisers to business owners, directors and managers on a wide range of HR and employment law issues.

In September 2012, the management team announced the launch of Optionis, the new parent brand for the Group. The change was to support the strategy of the Group to grow and become a workforce management and SME support business.

In May 2013, Michael Brookes & Co, a Manchester-based accountancy firm, was acquired by the Group. Michael Brookes specialises in providing expert accounting advice to small businesses. The firm also has niche practices targeted at the licensed trade, taxi sector and entertainment industry, making it the ideal complement to ClearSky.

We completed our second acquisition of 2013 as Dorset-based accountancy firm Lofts & Co. became the newest members of the Optionis Group. Lofts & Co. specialises in providing tax advice to small businesses and wealthy individuals and helps us on the way to establishing our ClearSky brand as a ‘one-stop shop’ for small firms.

ClearSky Business was launched in October 2013 which is a “one stop shop” offering support services for small business. We currently offer Accounting, Payroll and HR services but others may be added in time.

In January 2014, Optionis secured a new investment deal backed by MML Capital Partners. The secondary buyout (SBO) enables the Optionis management team to increase its stake in the business to 50% and provides an exit for private equity firm Inflexion. The investment comes as Optionis look to deliver sustainable growth for each of the Group’s brands.

The Parasol team are proud as punch of the large number of business awards and accolades achieved over recent years: ISO:9001; 2010, 2008, 2006 and 2005 Sunday Times Fast Track 100; 2008 and 2006 Sunday Times Top Track 250; 2011, 2010, 2008,2007, Best Companies Award; and the Investors in People Award.

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