The Business Advisory Blog

The Business Advisory Blog

Insight, news and updates from Alliott NZ Chartered Accountants, Auckland New Zealand. The views expressed here are the views of the author and should be discussed in further detail should an article be relevant to your individual circumstances.

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Hugh Bowden
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Alliotts case study: Armitage Group

Auckland’s award-winning Armitage Group, operating in New Zealand since 1994, is a well-known supplier of preference to private sector infrastructure engineers and developers, civil contractors and government authorities.

Armitage Camera MHX-859As a technology integrator with four offices in New Zealand and Australia, Armitage supplies, installs and maintains electronic and mechanical systems in the areas of Security, Fire Protection, CCTV, Building Management and Intelligent Transportation Systems.

Lately, they expanded their portfolio to include a Monitoring and Surveillance division providing a 24/7 support across all the business areas.

From the time founder Paul Sansbury established the business, he built a renowned reputation and was bringing through another generation of family expertise. Sadly the succession of the business was brought forward unexpectedly when Paul passed away a year ago.

“The business was a reflection of Paul that grew to a scale beyond him, with one man doing everything in a commercial sense, but it worked,” says General Manager Zachary Lawrence-Sansbury.

As Zachary knew and had worked with Hugh Bowden on tax and accounting in his previous company role, he naturally leant on Hugh to assist with structuring and transitioning Armitage Group from the legacy Paul had left.

He considers Hugh, together with his other advisers, as a ‘family team’.

Armitage Colour VMS-615“Hugh had been my accountant since 2004 but was involved with Paul more intensively years before,” says Zachary. “Since Paul’s illness we came to rely on Hugh a great deal more to the extent that he is now a close family friend and much more than our accountant.”

With the added responsibility of business ownership, Zachary admits he would struggle without the counsel of his colleagues and advisers.

“Now I rely far more on Hugh in a mentoring capacity, to bounce around ideas and seek his cautious accounting mind,” says Zachary.

“Amongst ourselves we still ask ‘what would Paul have done’ and keep him in mind anecdotally or otherwise as there are always precedents or past examples to help guide our decision making.”

“I like my core institutions not to change and the strength those foundations provide. I get those consistent relationships from Hugh and his team.”


Zachary relies on Hugh and the BW Team to keep Armitage Group on an even keel allowing him to steer and grow the business.

“We have lots of reasons to phone Rakesh and Moira about policy, regulation, tax and working to assist our accounts admin team,” says Zachary. “They stepped up when we asked for specific clarity and transparency around our divisional reporting once I became GM.”

“With accountancy not being my core skillset, Hugh meets with me before and during major bank meetings. Thanks to this approach, we are a lot more open to partnering with our bank which creates greater support and allows us to put more intelligent structures in place.”

In an industry fraught with flux, it means Zachary can steer the future direction of Armitage Group along with a trusted team of 95 employees who provide much-needed stability spanning the Tasman.

“We have come a long way and we are certainly not the cheapest, so being selected for major projects comes down to our continuity.”

“I’m very excited at the prospect of being able to reach out to different clients,” says Zachary. “It has certainly been a trying transition and not without its challenges, but we’re now at the stage where we can flourish thanks to having better processes and commercial acumen in place.”

Armitage Maioro VMSS 1-816In their technology capacity Armitage Group are behind many of New Zealand’s standout infrastructure projects including the Waterview Tunnel, Britomart Transport Centre and Auckland Rail Stations, Auckland Airport and Auckland Council fire protection systems, AMETI, SH20 – MHX Kirkbride and the maintenance of the Auckland Motorways as part of the Auckland Motorway Alliance to name a few. Read more about the great work they do at
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Topics: customer experience Family business mentor structure succession technology