Alastair’s story

“James Hair & Co’s advice has helped our business save huge amounts of money.

As a family we’ve been working with the firm since 1980 – from the very beginning! My grandparents met Jim when he was a newly qualified accountant and followed him when he set up James Hair & Co.

Initially the family used the firm for accountancy support and investment planning. Now our business has a very broad scope, including a hotel in the south west of Scotland and a rural estate. We've been through everything from succession planning to divorce, and James Hair & Co has managed it all.


James Hair & Co looks after all the things we don’t want to deal with! Our quarterly management accounts, our tax returns, filing reports at Companies House, regulations, red tape, and other things like making sure we get a good deal on business insurance.

On a day-to-day basis, they look after our payroll. Our financial systems are linked to theirs so they do everything from paying wages to sending out wage slips.

And they’re proactive – they work with all sorts of companies, which means they tell us if there are any new laws that we have to be aware of. Things can change on a regular basis, and they keep us up-to-date without us having to worry about it.

Jim has recommended a number of ways to help us save money – this year for example, we changed the way we run our payroll, which has saved the business huge amounts.

Business consultancy

With our business being very seasonal, we’re constantly looking at different ways to evolve and create more security.

So we’ve recently set up a microbrewery and James Hair & Co helped with that too. We needed someone with an independent view to advise us on things like whether to build or buy a new building. It was good to get advice from someone who could run the figures – I tend to work on a hunch, but of course it’s much better to get cold hard numbers to back this up!

We went to the bank and made funding applications and secured a grant off the back of that. Before that we were considering a microbrewery and planning on buying second hand equipment and building it on the cheap, but thanks to Jim, we’ve been able to buy everything brand spanking new.

Financial planning

The firm has always managed my mother’s portfolio and they set up and manage a trust on behalf of my parents.

During the time when we were planning to pass the business from my parents to me, I was also going through a divorce. James Hair & Co were able to look at the whole financial picture and give advice as to which lawyer to use, and various ways of making sure things happened to my advantage financially.

It’s important at all stages to have someone you trust with your money, but at this point having someone who knew the family history in such detail really helped. Without them I would have had to look for another specialist and start all over again.

Trusting James Hair & Co

It takes time to build a level of trust with any professional company you use on a regular basis – you used to have that with your bank manager, but you don’t have that now. But we’ve worked for so long together now that there’s a level of trust on both sides. It’s a good two-way relationship.

And everyone in the company knows their stuff – you can pick up the phone with any issue and pretty much anyone can answer it, and if you don’t get an answer you always find a way forward.

There’s a family feel too – you always know who you’re speaking to – it’s nice to have that consistency.

But above all, it’s having the expertise in-house that makes my life so much easier. It saves me time because I don’t have to spend time researching things and making sure we’re all up-to-date, which means I can do what I do best while they do what they do best – it’s a win win!

To find out more about Five Kingdoms Brewery or the Steam Packet Inn, please go to