PWC has been replaced by Deloitte as auditors of Marks & Spencer after the high street retailer changed its book-keeper for the first time since it became a public company in 1926.
The loss of the M&S audit, which earned PwC £1.8m in audit fees last year, is another blow for Big Four firm, which earlier this week lost its lucrative £18m a year contract vetting the books of Unilever to rival KPMG.
PwC, the largest of the FTSE 100 auditors, has also lost out to EY on the audits of Land Securities and gas explorer BG Group over the past year, as market prepares for a radical shake up with greater scrutiny being placed on the closeness and length of relationships between auditors and their clients.
“Competition in the audit market is fierce and we do expect to see more companies switch auditor in response to regulatory change,” said a spokesperson from PwC.
The most lucrative audit in the FTSE 100 was retendered earlier this year when PwC, replaced KPMG as auditors of HSBC. KPMG earned £31.5m in audit fees last year, according to data compiled by Accountancy Age’s sister title Financial Director.
The firm has also recently picked up the audits of Hargreaves Lansdown, Ladbrokes and Cairn Energy.
A slew of audit tenders are already expected to come onto the market as a result of ten-year ‘comply or explain’ tendering guidelines introduced by the FRC last year, and rules introduced by the Competition Commission forcing FTSE 350 companies to put their annual audits out to tender every ten years.
Further upheaval to the audit market remains on the cards in Europe, where EU lawmakers are considering reforms which include forcing companies to switch their auditors and putting a cap on the provision of non-audit services.
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