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September 29, 2009

Mazars cements North West England arm

Mazars’ Manchester office is merging with independent North West England firm Chadwick. The merger, which is due to be completed this month, will enlarge Mazars’ Manchester office and add a new Liverpool location.

Partner numbers in the region will grow from four to nine and overall staff will rise from about 40 to 100.

Mazars Manchester office managing partner Tim Hudson said Chadwick will introduce some skills Mazars is lacking in the North West.

“It is about broadening the skill base,” he said. “They have already got a corporate finance team that is operational in the North West, while we don’t currently have a dedicated team.

“They have got management accounting and a pay roll function that we don’t have locally and they have got a reasonably well developed transaction services team as well.”

Chadwick managing partner Pam Dawes said the firm decided the merger was necessary because it had hit a “glass ceiling” in terms of growth.

“We have grown very well as a practice, we have tripled our size in the last ten years and looking at the partner group and the demographic going forward, I think we have achieved perhaps as much as we can for four equity partners and a salary partner,” she said.

Chadwick looked at several opportunities for expansion, including merging with smaller practices and bringing in individuals. However, the firm decided merging with an international player was the best way to achieve its strategies of taking clients away from the Big Four, pitching for increasingly larger assignments and acting successfully for large owner-managed businesses.

These target clients have nationwide reach and international aspects, and Chadwick often lost in tenders to firms similar in size to Mazars.

“For the last 5 to 10 years, we have been trying to get clients away from the Big Four by offering them a much more hands-on service at partner level and senior level,” Dawes explained.

“We have got audit, corporate finance and tax well sorted out but there are other services that we don’t do. When you are looking at beefing up your client offering – looking at other services like insolvency, internal audit and financial services – you have got to think where you are going to get that from. There was no natural smaller practice that would bring that to us in a complementary way and with the international aspect.”

Mazars was a good fit for Chadwick because unlike larger organisations such as Grant Thornton and BDO Stoy Hayward, which Dawes described as “more the finished article” in terms of coverage, Mazars was looking to strengthen its presence in the North West.

The international firm also welcomed Chadwick’s willingness to “bring ideas to the table”, Dawes said.

“They want the commercial variety we can bring,” she said.

Chadwick was not previously part of any professional services network or association. It was a member of an international organisation called JPA, but Dawes said this was very much a club structure and there was no formal commercial link between firms.

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