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Desire to be “SMEs’ champion” motivated Iris/KashFlow deal

DUANE JACKSON has had approaches about deals for KashFlow before, but “none made any sense”, he tells Accountancy Age.

Today, though, it transpires that one offer did, and the firm he founded in 2006 has been acquired by Iris, giving them a combined subscriber base of 60,000 accountancy firms and SMEs.

“We want to be the champion of SMEs in the UK”, Iris chief executive Phill Robinson says. “There are several things they need to run their business: an application that allows them to manage their books and count their money; they need to pay their employees through payroll; and they need access to accountancy services. Through our combination with KashFlow, we’ve got everything covered.”

It is not the most obvious of pairings. Jackson has built KashFlow up from his own one-man band operation into a burgeoning business in just seven years with the help of the Prince’s Trust.

Iris, on the other hand, has been around for more than 30 years. At its recent annual conference, Robinson noted revenues stand at around £60m. And while KashFlow is much smaller, Jackson is keen to utilise the additional flexibility and resource Iris will afford him.

“When I look at Iris, yes they’re bigger than us, but they’re not so huge that we’d get gobbled up and disappear,” says Jackson. “Normally I’d be out raising money to go and build more access to accountancy, more products. With Iris, it’s there. We’ve got that now, today.”

Under the deal, the KashFlow brand will remain intact, there will be very little change as far as staff are concerned as KashFlow retains its London Bridge office and prices will be unaffected. In time, they hope to develop a fully-integrated suite of applications.

“We already work with other payroll products, but because they’re third-party, there’s loose integration,” explains Jackson. “When the products are owned by the same company, we can do some really decent, tight integration that for the end user is a seamless experience.”

Further integration between the two entities is needed in bringing them together, but Jackson will continue to head up KashFlow’s product development, ensuring continuity and allowing him to “use wider resources to do what I want to do”.

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