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April 30, 2008

CLB Coopers joins Leading Edge

CLB Coopers joins Leading Edge

The Leading Edge Alliance (LEA) has boosted its UK representation with the addition of CLB Coopers Chartered Accountants. The 13-partner firm has 110 professionals, three offices and an ambition to become the premier independent firm in north-west England.

“We’re not part of any national firm but we are aiming to come up against [Grant Thornton UK] and BDO [Stoy Hayward], and be as good as they are,” CLB tax partner Rick Schofield told IAB. “I think a lot of the market and a lot of the banks you speak to are now viewing us in that way, but obviously we will always try to be better.”

CLB was previously a member of Polaris International. The firm left the association because it felt it did not have “quite the same ethos” as the association.

Schofield said the evolving nature of CLB’s clients was one of the reasons for joining LEA. “We are very aware that a lot of our clients are looking more globally and we wanted to join a group of people who had a similar view to what we did in terms of being very entrepreneurial – really supporting our entrepreneurial-based clients. We needed someone who we thought was good enough and had the same spirit that we did,” Schofield said. “It has been bothering us that we didn’t feel that we could service them as well as we would have liked to and we feel Leading Edge gives us that ability.”

CLB, which has been established for 150 years, already offers its clients a range of specialist services. Schofield said the firm can already compete with the larger mid-tier players in the provision of services such as corporate recovery, corporate restructuring, VAT work and tax experience.

The firm’s strategy is to build on its SME base – clients with £5 million ($10 million) to £75 million in annual turnover. The firm is looking to grow at about 15 to 25 percent each year, which, according to Schofield, “we’ve been achieving and I think we want to keep going at that rate”.

However, CLB is not looking to expand very far geographically. “We’re very north-west-based, certainly as part of Leading Edge now. [There are four other Leading Edge firms in the UK] so we certainly don’t want to impinge on their geography,” Schofield said.

Carolyn Canham

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