YOU’D IMAGINE the end of July in the south-west is all about watching cows stand at a strange angle on the grassy incline of Corfe Castle, or teenagers whacking on a bodysuit to go surfing in Newquay.
However, the region’s big local practices have been busy doing business.
This week has seen Francis Clark and Winter Rule merge, while Bishop Fleming has expanded its reach ‘up the M5 corridor’ with the acquisition of Rabjohns.
Geographic, and service line, expansion lay behind the deals. Of course mass also equates to efficiencies and more ‘clout’ – a bigger brand footprint.
We’ve heard for years that consolidation among the ‘next tier’ of firms, those that don’t necessarily pick up all the headlines, is due. Just today we’ve seen five ‘director’ firm Greenhalgh get it on with three-partner HSKS.
So we’ve seen some action, but has anything acted as a catalyst for these deals?
Well it can’t just be the weather, and is unlikely to be any one factor. It seems that, after a tough couple of years, many firms see opportunities to expand, beyond the already-mentioned benefits.
Without commenting directly on the three deals themselves, we may have the baby-boomers looking to pass on their businesses; practices prices ‘competitively’ shall we say.
On the client side it could be argued that there is a growing need for small and growing businesses to have relatively sophisticated requirements, i.e operating abroad. This is amplified with cheap sterling, a point made to me by Francis Clark boss Les Burnett.
So exciting times ahead, and surely not driven purely by the local delights of Plymouth, Truro and Poole.
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