JOHNSTON Carmichael, the independent accountancy and business advisory firm, is to expand its presence in Glasgow on the back of an increase in growth and profits this year.

New chief executive Andrew Walker hailed eight per cent growth in revenue to almost £50 million, which its new accounts will show for its latest financial year, as it plans to expand its operation in central Scotland as well as signalling international gains beyond Brexit and more targeted opportunities in areas including auditing.

It plans to further expand its headcount also after a year that saw 15% increase in staff in Glasgow to 100, with around 50 new starts across the business.

The news comes after significant investment in the opening of Dundee and London offices, as well as a raft of key hires and spending in developing areas of expertise such as digital innovation.

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Mr Walker, who joined the firm in 2003 and has helped it double in size in 10 years to become one of Scotland’s leading professional service firms, outlined the next move in an exclusive interview with The Herald.

He said: “We are still seeing a lot of opportunities in the Scottish market.

“We’ve seen great growth coming through in the Central Belt, particularly Glasgow.

“There is still a big market to go after and we are taking on some really good hires in the local market so I can only see further growth coming from that area.

“We are currently looking to take more space in Glasgow to handle the growth because the reaction we’ve been getting from the market has been really positive.

“It doesn’t have to be just new areas, but making sure we are doing the right things for clients.”

For the year ended May 31, 2019, Mr Walker said: “We’ve had a good year in terms of 8% growth in revenue, so we’ve gone from £45.5 million to £49.3m and we’ve seen an increase in our profits available for members from £11.8m to £12.2m, which is pleasing in that we have been making quite a bit of investment in the business and continue to do so in the current year in the form of new people and increasing our capabilities.”

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The Aberdeen-based company now has 850 staff across 13 locations following this year’s push.

Mr Walker said: “Within the period we’ve opened an office in Dundee, which was, I would argue, the one glaring gap in our portfolio in Scotland, and we’ve opened an office in London, which is mainly to help with the financial services sector but also those clients that are based in Scotland but have a presence in London.

“We’ve found they have been very encouraging for us to be down there to help them, and they were saying they weren’t getting the level of service elsewhere that they were getting from ourselves.”

Mr Walker took over from Sandy Manson, who became chair and also head of client service.

Mr Walker said: “Succession is one of those things that we are always thinking about and I would say it is one of the top issues that faces professional services firms.

“If we are advising clients on how they manage succession, it is only right and proper that we should be thinking about hat ourselves.

“I have to admit I’ve really enjoyed the period in the four and half months since I’ve taken on the role, working closely with Sandy Manson for 18 months prior to that and I’ve been on our board of directors for the last 11 years so a lot of it I knew.

“But I’ve been able spend time going round the offices and meeting people I didn’t see as often as I could.”

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The company is also to set up a series of networking events in the Glasgow office in West George Street to support businesses and encourage wider collaboration.

Mr Walker also said: “I think there is going to be a number of areas of growth for us. The ongoing challenges within the audit profession means there is going to be changes coming from that side.

“Again, there is going to be a lot of work around Brexit and the international angles to it.

“We’ve invested heavily and have a great team on the customs and duty side and also on the international tax side.”

He said: “A lot of it is more of the same, and again, being close to the clients, understanding the issues they have and see how we can help them.”