The move immediately sparked speculation that a rationalisation was on the way in which the top firms left gave up their regional bases and consolidated operations in urban centres. But PwC denied any suggestion of restructuring.
Stuart Holmes, senior partner at the firm’s Norwich office, said: ‘We are fully committed to the region and to having a strong presence here in the market.’
News of the Grant Thornton take-over emerged in the middle of last week and was followed by suggestions from David McDonnel, Grant Thornton’s national managing partner that the change might be start a trend.
McDonnel said further Big Five flight from the regions would leave rich pickings for mid-tier firms looking to specialise in serving owner-managed businesses.KPMG insisted the take-over was not a defection and and moved to scupper any suggestion that the Norwich changeover was a sign of things to come.
A spokesman said: ‘We’re not going to end up in just Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham.’He said giving up the Norwich office was an isolated measure and had come as part of a ‘periodic review’.
KPMG gave up Norwich because its client list did not fit the national profile of the firm. The news prompted speculation that partners in regional branches of the Big Five might see their offices as vulnerable and ripe for off loading.
KPMG’s Norwich office taken over by Grant Thornton