Shaw Gibbs’ acquisitions and expansion

Sarah Gardener, partner, board member and head of Outsourcing at Shaw Gibbs explains how the company is going to benefit from its recent acquisition of Wise and Co and its new office in Basingstoke. She also tells us about Shaw Gibbs’ plan to expand its services beyond acquisitions

Can you tell me about yourself and the history of Shaw Gibbs?

I am Sarah Gardener, and I’m one of the three partners who sits on the management board of Shaw Gibbs. Shaw Gibbs is a well-established professional services firm, predominantly in Oxford over the last 100 years, having acquired a London office back in 2016. We provide expert solutions for entrepreneurial businesses and private individuals in Central and Southern England.

Considering you just acquired Wise and Co, how did you identify it as a good fit for Shaw Gibbs and what does the acquisition of Wise and Co mean for the company?

We took private equity investment back in November 2022, and Wise and Co is our first expenditure set investment. It’s obviously quite a big transaction and an important one for the next step of the journey.
Our strategy is really to take the success we’ve had in Oxford and London and expand our geographical reach across central and southern England. Wise very naturally sat in that geography for us. They have an amazing practice that is very similar to our own.

Throughout the quoting process, we lost track of how many times we said, “That’s how we do it too”. We’re similar businesses and have a similar family feel. There’s also a very strong people culture in both practices. So, it just felt like a natural fit from day one for us.

There are just over 70 of them sat in Farnham and offering very similar service lines to ourselves, if not better. Hopefully, we can bring a few additional levels of expertise to their clients.

Were there any challenges during the process?

In terms of the two parties, no, we have all got along very well from the outset and the parties have come together really well. This shows how similar we are on our outlook and approach to business and we look forward to working together going forward.

Shaw Gibbs has also opened a new office at Basingstoke, how did it become the location for your next office?

RSM chose to close their Basingstoke office, but the team there was committed to the local economy and geography, and most of their clients are all in and around Basingstoke through to London. So, it was really important for them to find a home ultimately to serve or continue to serve their client base.

From day one, again, similar to Wise, RSM commented on the culture and the opportunities for their people and wanted to be part of something slightly more inclusive. Lastly, from our perspective, we knew there’s a huge amount of tech development there, the inbound investment is strong, and it just made sense to do business there.

How will the addition of Wise and Co and the new office in Basingstoke benefit Shaw Gibbs?

Sales, marketing, IT, HR, finance, and facilities are just a few of the great support staff members we’ve invested in. We’ve made a few smaller, successful acquisitions over the past few years, and from those, I believe we’ve learnt that professional services are becoming more and more regulated. Treatment is difficult, and running an accounting practice today may be more challenging than it has ever been.

Adding more acquisitions to the Shaw Gibbs Group will obviously strengthen our brand, but it will also act as a bit of a magnet for clients. We want to attract the best talent and the best clients and having more of a geographical reach, a stronger brand-identity and increased expertise in order to service entrepreneurial and growing business is crucial to this.

The retention of our existing employees is really high on our agenda and we want to provide opportunities for people to expand on their specialisms, relocate into different regions and potentially take on senior roles such as office managing partner or indeed move into behind-the-scenes technical roles. Growth means we are able to provide more of an abundance of choice in order to cater to individual skill-sets and the direction our employees wish to take their career.

Is Shaw Gibbs expecting any other acquisitions to boost its expansion plans?

We’re absolutely open for business, but I think the key point here is that we only want to work with companies that truly share the common aims and goals that we have. We are first and foremost people in business and becoming experts is also one of our goals. We want the very best people to come and join us. Our service lines will also continue to evolve as the types of clients change. So, do we envisage more officers in the next 12 months? Yes, but only with the right people.

How else does the business intend to grow its services in the UK beyond acquisitions?

Our organic growth is still very important to us and we will continue to offer a one-stop shop for growing entrepreneurial businesses. We have sector specialisms which have developed over the past 100 years. In Oxford and London we are strong in property, healthcare and providing support for internationally owned businesses and the plan is to continue to build on these.
We will now also be able to maximise on the sector specialisms in the new regions we operate in and I am sure, as we continue to learn from the acquired firms, we will also roll out further service lines that we don’t quite offer yet.

How would you like to see the firm in a year’s time?

Our key focus for the next few months is to put everything into the integration of the two new offices and others we may bring into the Group during that period. It is important for us as at Board and support team level to make sure that the Shaw Gibbs culture is retained throughout, we are proud that people speak of the family feel and friendliness of our firm and we will have failed if they’re not still saying that in 12 months’ time.

Shaw Gibbs have completed a number of successful smaller acquisitions over the years and with the equity raise from Apiary Capital last year we have been able to significantly scale-up and use what we have learned from the smaller deals to expand on the Group. We are actively looking for firms who operate in central and southern England in geographical markets with economic opportunity.

Show More
Back to top button