Happy Birthday to Briars

This year The Briars Group turned 30. The moment was marked with a small party and, over the year, other events will take place to say “thank you” to all those who have been instrumental in helping us reach this milestone.
Timing is everything, they say. The brainchild of Founder Freeman Andrew Brierley and Past Master Kate Jolly, Briars was created to provide bespoke high-quality support to international clients but was born into challenging circumstances. The 1990s began ominously, with high interest rates, a two-year recession, and UK unemployment exceeding 10%. Exactly one year after launch, Black Wednesday devalued sterling by 20%.

businessman holding paper with Black Wednesday headlines

Black Wednesday

It may have seemed an inopportune time to launch but, as Andrew explained, “entrepreneurs tend to ignore stark realities and focus on opportunities, wherever and whenever they find them”. Both founders yearned for freedom: To think, to act, to deliver. As Kate Jolly put it, “both of us recognised the frustrations of working as small cogs in large organisations, wanting to be free to explore and take risks”.

The 1990s saw momentous changes: The Soviet Union fell, the World Wide Web connected the globe, and teeny weeny Briars moved from a single rented office in Guildford to a three-person garden office. Since the 90s, average house prices in the UK have risen from £57,000 to £266,000 and during this time Briars has continued to ‘move house’ until reaching our current location at Tanshire Park in 2018.

The Berlin Wall Falls- photo by Carol Guzy

The Berlin Wall Falls.
(The Washington Post, photo by Carol Guzy)

The three global recessions that have struck since Briars was founded prove that, after a tricky start, life doesn’t necessarily get any easier for an entrepreneurial business trying to expand. However, Briars has ridden each challenge and expanded coverage to support corporate clients as their Land & Expand specialists across over 50 countries.

It’s been quite a journey, but the founders’ belief in a collegiate environment and passion to provide best service in a family-oriented organisation has seen Briars overcome. Andrew notes that “we continue to learn each day. We still fall down and skin our knees. However, the falls have reduced over the years and the knowledge and skills needed to build the business have increased.”

The secret of Briars’ longevity? Character, perhaps. Kate comes from Scotland and Andrew from Yorkshire. They put the ongoing success (and, on occasions, survival) of Briars down to their northern origins, combining Yorkshire stubbornness with Glaswegian humour! But, of course, it is a group effort: “Briars’ success is very much linked to our teams. We have been blessed with amazing folks, many of whom continue to work with us today and who share a common goal of best service. This is the Briars Family”.

It is the staff retention and development during the last 30 years that Andrew looks back on most fondly, “being able to watch our staff grow and watch our clients build from start-ups to global enterprises. That is what we, as founders, wanted from the beginning”.

Briars Group Team celebrating 30 years

The Briars Team

Briars Group 30th year celebration cake and balloonsAnd a final word from Kate “The Briars folks want to pass our thanks to every client, past and present, and to all those advisors who have entrusted us to support their clients over the years. Without all of you, Briars would be a lesser force to be reckoned with. We rely heavily upon referrals, which ensures that we focus on providing our best efforts to all those who need us.”

As we emerge from the global pandemic, Briars has big plans and 2022 will be a landmark year in the next stage of our growth. If your future plans involve the international expansion of your business and you’re looking for people with 30 years of experience in making this happen, please feel free to contact briars today.


Kate co-founded Briars in 1991 with Andrew Brierley. She specialised in tax law and today continues to advise clients on international operations, particularly land, expand and exit! In her spare time Kate is a Past Master of the City of London Guild of Entrepreneurs and a Director of CCARHT (Cambridge Centre for Applied Research into Human Trafficking).