Scottish Accountancy Practice EQ Sets Ambitious Target to Triple Turnover Following Sumer Investment

28/02/2024

Scottish accountancy firm EQ have set ambitious plans to triple its turnover over the next five years after selling a major stake in the business to Sumer.

EQ are the first accountancy practice in Scotland, and the ninth in the UK, to join Sumer in the last 12 months – making the private-equity backed organisation a top 15 UK accountancy practice.

The move means EQ, which has offices in Dundee, Forfar and Glenrothes, can now call on the support of 1,000 colleagues across 40 offices whilst maintaining the local knowledge and expertise of its 133 core staff in Tayside and Fife. 

As part of the Sumer investment, EQ will have funds available to work on growth plans that could see them acquiring other SME businesses and tripling turnover from £11 million to £33 million over the next five years.

EQ have already started an internal restructure that has seen former Thorntons managing partner Craig Nicol, who joined the company as a non-executive board advisor in August 2022, being appointed as chief executive. He is working alongside the recently-appointed EQ chief operating officer Caroline McKenna, who has an impressive track record in project management, social entrepreneurship and leadership.

The new leadership team is investing in their staff as a driving force behind EQ’s ambitious targets which could see them takeover some companies in the east coast of Scotland, from the Borders to the north.

“Trebling the turnover in five years is not an easy target,” said Craig Nicol. “But I think it’s achievable. We are already seeing opportunities in the marketplace. With the group of people we have here and the infrastructure we’re building we will be ready to facilitate that growth.”

Sumer’s investment in EQ came as a result of a year-long process with the acquisition group keen to bring together the best SME accountancy practices in the country.

Mr Nicol added: “The co-founder of Sumer, Warren Mead, is ex-KPMG and he and a couple of colleagues started looking at who is championing the SME sector in the UK.

“They decided the champions were the strong regional accountancy practices. They wanted to invest in quality regional businesses. We had discussions with them for a year to get the investment over the line.

“There is capital available to allow us to buy other accountancy businesses. We want to acquire businesses that are local SME champions.”

“We are already in at least three conversations at different stages of negotiation. I think with a fair wind we will acquire at least two businesses this year and at least another two businesses in 2025.”

EQ are working on a number of projects to invest in its people and is developing an employee shares incentive scheme. Caroline McKenna will work on that scheme as she takes a lead on the integration of the companies acquired by EQ.

She said: “We are restructuring the teams to make sure they are fit for growth. We are also looking at policies such as share incentives to attract and retain staff. Craig and I have a very positive working relationship with different skills that complement each other.

“We challenge each other on the right things to do but for both of us it’s always about people and culture and making sure people enjoy their work.”

EQ has joined Monahans, RMT Accountants & Business Advisors, RT Marke & Co, Jerroms, Simmons Gainsford, Carpenter Box and Cowgills as the latest ‘champions’ of the Sumer stable. With significant funding from Penta Capital and BlackRock, Sumer hopes to triple in size in just two years.

“Sumer is shaking up the UK accountancy sector and we’ve only just started,” said Sumer chief executive Warren Mead. “We’ve joined forces with outstanding regional firms who share our vision to champion entrepreneurs and owner managed businesses. 

“We are different because we are embedded in local communities, yet we’re able to provide our clients with the benefits of national scale.”

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