Dow Schofield Watts, the North’s leading independent business advisory firm, has taken the first step in its plans for a national roll-out with the launch of a London office.

The new office in Covent Garden will initially offer due diligence services and will be led by Richard Hooper, who joins from Deloitte, and James Killing from RSM, who between them have over 40 years’ experience. It is expected that further service lines will follow.

The move comes during a period of rapid growth at Dow Schofield Watts, whose innovative business model is proving increasingly attractive to professionals from top-tier firms and which plans to open offices in key locations throughout the UK in the coming years.

Founded in 2002 by ex-KPMG colleagues James Dow, Jon Schofield and Mark Watts, the firm offers professionals an opportunity to build their own businesses under the Dow Schofield Watts brand. Licensees benefit from start-up capital, office space and a basic salary as well as access to an extensive network of contacts.

With over 50 professionals in the group and revenues of over £8m, Dow Schofield Watts now ranks as a top 75 accountancy firm but doesn’t provide audit services. The group has its own private equity fund, PHD Equity Partners, its own business angel network Dow Schofield Watts Angels, and also operates Pangea M&A, an international corporate finance network. The London office is its first outside the North.

Richard Hooper, co-founder and partner of Dow Schofield Watts Transaction Services (London) LLP, said: “Dow Schofield Watts is already a respected name in the London market. This is an exciting opportunity for us to set up a new office from scratch and we expect to be joined by other teams of professionals in the near future. We believe there is a gap in the market here for a boutique advisory firm that can provide an integrated offering and an expert, partner-led service.”

Dow Schofield Watts’ current service lines in the North include ‘everything but audit’ – corporate finance, transaction services, business recovery, management and strategy, forensic accounting, wealth management, IT due diligence and a range of specialist tax services.

James Dow, founding partner, said the firm’s innovative business model allowed it to challenge the dominance of the big four firms. “Top-tier firms attract the cream of the talent but at some point many of these professionals want to run their own business. The Dow Schofield Watts model offers an attractive proposition, allowing them to hit the ground running and focus on winning and servicing clients with cross-referrals from the group. It also allows clients to benefit from high-level expertise at prices still comfortably below the big four.

“Expanding beyond the North is a natural progression for the group and we are delighted to welcome Richard and James, who both have a strong track record in their field. Our aim is to continue building the London office and supporting the growth of existing licensees, while recruiting further high-calibre professionals to help us roll out the Dow Schofield Watts model to other key locations in the UK.”