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Happy New Year, happy 135th birthday Wilkins Kennedy

David Fenn

01 January 2017

There’s no doubt that 2016 was a great year for the firm. We successfully merged with a number of offices, two of which afforded us brand new locations in Canterbury and Maidstone, strengthening our presence in the Kent region. As we head into 2017, we hope that this string of growth will continue – especially as it is Wilkins Kennedy’s 135th birthday year. What better way to celebrate than with a look back at the firm’s history and how we have grown into who we are today.

1882 – 1962

Wilkins Kennedy started life under a different guise – Kennedy Fox Oldfield. The firm was mainly established in the City and was recorded in the London Gazette as being at 11 Old Jewry Chambers, EC2. Geoffrey Charles Fox of Kennedy Fox Oldfield sadly died in a car accident in 1959 and his remaining business partners merged with Wilkins Hassell & Co in 1962. This was what was to be the first of many growth mergers at the firm, now also having established premises in Amersham and Southend.

1962 – 1982

The merger created the new trading name “Wilkins Kennedy” a firm that now had six Partners and was based at 8 Queen Street, London as well as the offices in Amersham and Southend.

After the name “Wilkins Kennedy” was born, a period of strong growth followed. The London office had experienced tremendous growth, following a merger with a two-partner firm, PB Bishop in 1969 and then with John Diamond & Co in 1979. It was during this later merger that Wilkins Kennedy’s London office moved to Bridge House where it remains to this day. By 1982 there were two further offices in Orpington and the Falkland Islands partly as a result of a merger with Spain Brothers.

1982 – 1996

The merger with the Spain Brothers in 1982 further enlarged the new Bridge House office presence, but in 1996 another merger with BRB expanded the existing London office even more. Some staff also came to work for the Southend office, so this was able to experience growth since its Wilkins Kennedy foundation in 1962.

The BRB merger in 1996 also gave Wilkins Kennedy an office in Egham and an enhanced specialist insolvency service. This truly afforded the firm an opportunity to open up more specialisms to clients as well as tax, VAT and Corporate Finance.

1996 – 2006

The Egham office grew in 2001 thanks to a merger with Hugills, which brought in new Partners from Hounslow. It also gave Wilkins Kennedy new offices in Cambridge and Waltham Cross – now reformed into our enlarged Hertford office.

A merger with WH Payne would significantly expand the London office in 2003 and then around 2006 I became Finance Partner, where I would work with former Managing Partners, Peter Villa and Colin Wiseman on a strategy to grow Wilkins Kennedy through mergers with suitable partner firms. Any acquisitions chosen between then and now would not only be for growth but also to improve our brand offering whilst fitting with our culture and ethos. The purpose of the merger programme was, and still is, to better serve clients through a firm that is big enough to provide the specialisms needed whilst also providing the friendly, personal service clients expect from a local firm.

2006 to present day

A merger with Jordan Brooks opened up new offices in Winchester and Romsey in 2007 whilst Young & Co created a new Guildford office in the same year, shortly followed by a merger with Bridgers that created a new Reading office.

With 2007 giving Wilkins Kennedy four new offices, in the following year the firm gained one more when Finn-Kelcey and Chapman established the Ashford office. In 2009 a merger with Fiddaman expands the Hertford office, which was previously based at Waltham Cross.

In late 2010 I took on my responsibility as Managing Partner for Wilkins Kennedy with an official handover in May 2011 – a title that I am proud to still be holding to this day.

During 2011 Nortons Recovery merges in to the Reading office, Casey Lester into Amersham and Charles Stuart into Egham further strengthening those offices and in 2012 PR Hornsby merges into the new Hertford office.

More recent mergers afforded the firm new offices in Portsmouth and Southampton from CW Fellowes in 2013. During that year, a merger with Matthews Mist helped to develop the Romsey office. In 2015, the Winchester office would grow with a merger with FBR accounting, and helped us to create our new, larger premises. The Guildford office also experienced growth as it merges with another local firm, McPherson’s.

In 2016, Wilkins Kennedy experienced another round of growth as a merger with Antoines expands the Amersham office and a merger with Lakin Clark and Day, Smith & Hunter gave Wilkins Kennedy two new offices in Canterbury and Maidstone, respectively.

From our humble beginnings in 1882, we have expanded into a number of specialisms in a variety of sectors of the marketplace thanks to the firm’s successful merger programme. Today, Wilkins Kennedy is a top-20 accountancy firm with 16 offices around the south east of the UK and one office in the Falkland Islands. We hope that our success will continue into 2017 and beyond.

Don’t forget, if we can be of any assistance to you please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Happy New Year!

About David Fenn

David Fenn

David is the Managing Partner of Wilkins Kennedy, having previously served as Finance Partner. David initially trained at Wilkins Kennedy’s Southend office and was appointed Partner at the age of 26 and went on to build a large and varied client portfolio and he is now mainly based in the London office. David has a large and diverse client portfolio which spans many industries. However he enjoys particular expertise in the property and construction sector, supporting clients’ growth and longevity during often turbulent economic conditions.

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