ONE of the UK’s fastest growing business advisory groups, Baldwins, part of the CogitalGroup, is expanding into Southampton for the first time after joining forces with local firm, Wilkins Kennedy.

Wilkins Kennedy, founded in 1882, is the 18th largest accountancy business in the UK with an annual turnover in excess of £54m and 700 employees. In Hampshire the firm has offices in Southampton, Winchester, Romsey and Portsmouth.

Baldwins’ South Region will operate as Wilkins Kennedy: a CogitalGroup Company.

CogitalGroup is an international business services group with annual revenues of £480m, employing around 6,000 people across 170 offices in the UK, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, and in technology centres in Romania and Lithuania.

The move will see Wilkins Kennedy’s senior partner William Payne become regional managing director with responsibility for the South Region. Payne will also join the board of Baldwin Holdings.

The acquisition boosts CogitalGroup’s client numbers to 70,000. Its number of employees will rise to 6,000 with the number of offices increasing to 170 across the UK, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland, and in technology centres in Romania and Lithuania.

Adam Wilson, from Wilkins Kennedy in Southampton, believes the move will act as a catalyst for further growth.

He said: “For our clients, it will be a case of business as usual although working with Baldwins provides us with a powerful platform to further support our clients with additional expertise. When our clients look to us for help, we will be able to provide exceptional advice tailored to their individual needs."

Baldwins growth plan under founder John Baldwin, has seen the firm grow to 82 offices across England, Wales and Scotland.

"Our passion for providing a personalised, high quality service, combined with our increased scale and market focus with support from Cogital gives us a competitive advantage," said Mr Baldwin

“Wilkins Kennedy has built up a solid reputation in the busiest business region across a plethora of sectors, just like Baldwins has done in other areas of the UK, and we look forward to working together to further expand the business further.”

Last week, Cogital announced that its London division Blick Rothenberg had bought private tax client practice Westleton Drake which specialises on advising high net worth US families, executives and entrepreneurial business and in March, it added tax advisory business Rawlinsons to its Baldwins stable.