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French Duncan invests heavily in Glasgow office

SCOTTISH accountancy firm French Duncan has invested hundreds of thousands of pounds in a move to a new Glasgow office.

The mid-tier firm, which recently became the second highest new entry to Accountancy Age magazine's top 100, at 68, said the move to the Grade A space across from The Hydro reflects its growth ambitions.

The switch continues a sustained period of investment French Duncan has made in the last two years, which has seen it pursue a strategy based on mergers, organic growth and hiring staff from "big four" firms.

French Duncan, which employs 200 staff across offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Hamilton, Dumbarton and Kirkintilloch, took on the tax consultancy team from Chiene and Tait earlier this year. That followed its merger with Macfarlane Gray, the biggest firm in Stirling, a year previously.

Along with some "substantial client wins", those moves have helped it achieve a 6% rise in fee income.

The firm will leave its long-standing office on West George Street and take its 85 staff into the ninth and tenth floors at 133 Finnieston Street later this month.

It has no immediate plans to hire more staff, but said it selected its new premises with a view to continue building the team.

With the premises overlooking The Hydro, Armadillo and the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC), close to major rail and road links and within short distance of an "up and coming" part of Argyle Street, managing partner Graeme Finnie said it is located "where we want to be".

The corporate finance partner said: "We have got a real focus, we know where we want to be and we have grown by merger, by acquisition. Internally, we are very focused on driving the business to be more efficient to give a much better client experience.

"We have been in our office here on West George Street for 25 years. We are now moving to a real up and coming area in terms of Finnieston. We are taking the top floors of a Grade A office building and the office environment is quite frankly stunning.

"It's an exciting part of town. It is more reflective of the firm we are now and the ambition we have now."

The move comes as Mr Finnie, who signalled the company would continue to look at acquisition opportunities, detects an improvement in confidence among its clients over the economic outlook.

Noting the firm has just joined HLB, the UK accountancy network, as its exclusive Scottish member, he said: "My own view is that it [the market] probably bottomed out three years ago. I think the major difference is there is more palpable optimism and a belief that the worst is behind us. People are now starting to look to the future."

He added: "I personally think it will be a number of years before we really feel we are right out of it, because I don't think it will be a bounce. I think it will be a long slow climb out of the nadir. But I definitely think it is on the up."

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