VW Heritage: In The Driver's Seat
Burgess Hill-based VW Heritage began life 30 years ago as Karmann Classics – a company sourcing parts exclusively for Karmann Ghias.
Since then, it has grown into the UK’s largest air-cooled VW specialist, supplying quality Volkswagen replacement parts for Beetles, Buses and Ghias and, more recently, stocking parts for water-cooled models too. In addition to the restoration division, the company now has a performance arm – Street Style and Power.
Thirty years down the road, the ethos of VW Heritage remains the same – to approach the business from the viewpoint of a VW enthusiast.
Plus Accounting has been advising the founders of the company, David Ward and Nickie Swaden, since 1993 – when it was operating out of a lock-up shop in a suburb of Hove.
“We’d been working with our original accountant for around eight years but we were getting bigger and he advised us to find a suitable firm of accountants. Plus Accounting was recommended to us and, 20 years down the line, we are still very happy,” says David Ward. “The firm has stuck by us through a number of changes in the business over that time – including one acquisition, one joint venture, three new partners and four moves.”
He continues: “To have had Peter Hedgethorne by our side for those 20 years has been great. He understands us and where we are coming from. He knows our style and has a great insight into the business. Peter has a very calm approach. It’s always a worry when we get a VAT inspection or a query from HMRC – but Peter always says ‘don’t worry’ and it gets dealt with.”
A joint venture – which was signed in April 2011 - marked a key development for VW Heritage and involved a tie-up with the German automotive manufacturer Wulf Geartner, based in Hamburg. Later that year, VW Heritage became the first independent UK supplier of Volkswagen Classic Parts – working with a Volkswagen subsidiary based in Wolfsburg.
“This development also sees us exporting VW parts back into Germany as well,” adds David. “Plus Accounting stood by us at every step during the establishment of the joint venture. The team was always available to check any figures or forecasts that came over during the negotiations. I’ve always found Plus Accounting to be proactive. I also like the firm’s holistic approach – looking at the bigger picture.”
Today, Plus Accounting looks after the personal accounting requirements of a number of the company’s management team as well
“David and Nickie have come a long way since they gave us one of our first financial forecasts to do to support their initial expansion into the overseas parts market,” says Peter Hedgethorne from Plus Accounting. “It is brilliant to look at them now with a £10 million company, yet still as down to earth and approachable as ever. I am pleased to have been a part of that success story, guiding them through some of the many challenges that they have met on their journey.”