The accountancy market was waiting for the next phase in the Baldwins acquisition programme, and it was clear they needed something significant in the south-east.
Wilkins Kennedy has a strong London base and multiple offices in the Solent, home counties and Kent – so it certainly fits Baldwins’ requirements.
This is the largest deal undertaken by Baldwins, but we believe they have significant aspirations to go further. Previous deals have been predominantly smaller practices or regional independents however, similar smaller deals would not have created an impact in the London and south-east market.
The only question mark about Baldwins’ growth ambitions is how quickly they can resource the integration of Wilkins Kennedy and move on with other acquisitions. As Baldwins is backed by private equity-owned Cogital Group, we imagine there will be an increased impetus to integrate, create value and move forward.
It’s interesting to note that Wilkins Kennedy have a strong identity in London and the south-east. Other smaller Baldwins acquisitions have rebranded, but with such a strong identity perhaps Baldwins perceive a risk in changing the name at this point. This could suggest the integration will be made at a slightly slower pace than the smaller deals.
In summary, a deal of this type was on the cards for Baldwins. It will be interesting to see how the integration of this size of practice will be handled. As 65% of accounting firms are located in the south-east perhaps further acquisitions are planned on the back of the Wilkins Kennedy office structure.
Keith Underwood is a director of Foulger Underwood.
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