First UK firms adopt Kreston International brand

Kreston International has announced that two of its members, Reeves and James Cowper, are to become the first firms in the UK to rebrand with the Kreston name, as part of a move to raise the network’s profile.

Jon Lisby, Kreston’s chief executive officer, said: ‘All our UK firms operate in close collaboration and produce Kreston UK marketing collateral, but to date no firm has been branded as Kreston, so this marks a step change for the network.’

From 2 February Reeves, which is ranked 29th in Accountancy’s 2014 UK Top 75 firm’s league table, will become Kreston Reeves, while James Cowper, ranked 47th, becomes James Cowper Kreston. In Accountancy's International Networks' and Associations 2013 Survey, Kreston International ranked 17th, with $1,945m fee income.

Kreston UK represents firms based in the UK, Ireland, Channel Islands and Isle of Man. Each firm is a Kreston International member, the global network of independent accounting firms. 

Kreston UK is a UK network of accounting firms providing national coverage, a resource of over 1,950 professional and support staff and generating annual fee revenues of £122m.  As a combined organisation, it would rank as the 11th largest UK firm.

Lisby said: ‘Very often when we respond to a tender we are competing against fully branded mid-tier network firms, and that has been a disadvantage. Even though we may have a stronger presence in a particular area, audit committees sometimes feel it is safer to go with a recognised global name. Rebranding in this way supports our profile in competition.’

The network said it operates in 104 countries with over 20,000 professional and support staff generating aggregate fee revenues of over US$2,000m. Of the network’s180 or so firms worldwide, Lisby estimates around 50 have adopted the Kreston brand. They include firms in the Netherlands, Germany, France, all of the network in Spain and most of the Latin America firms, plus one of the firms in Australia.

‘There is a growing impetus to adopt the brand, but we are leaving the final decision to the firms themselves, all of which have strong local brands. They already feature Kreston strongly alongside that brand, so it will not be compulsory to rebrand,’ Lisby said.

Lisby also said the network had a flexible approach as to how individual firms deal with adding the Kreston name, so as to ensure minimum disruption to existing client relationships. James Cowper, for example, had done a survey which found their clients liked the firm’s orange brand, which they have retained that rather than the Kreston blue. Similarly, firms can include the Kreston name with their own in any combination they choose.

‘But however firms adopt the Kreston name, what we are saying to the marketplace is that we function as a coherent, consistent brand and our firms are all part of the same global group. Our aim is to show we can compete with networks which may be more advanced in their development. We are currently the 13th largest network, but probably the one with the lowest profile,’ Lisby said. 

Lisby reported that the managing partners of all the UK Kreston firms will be meeting in March, and said that while the rebranding move was expected to be a topic of discussion, there was no formal timetable for other firms to adopt the name.

‘Our firms are fiercely independent, so developments will happen at their pace. In 2008 we changed from being an association of firms to becoming an international network, and our aim is become more cohesive and joined up.  Branding is part of this, but we are certainly not imposing it on firms,’ Lisby said. 

Clive Stevens, executive chairman of Reeves and a board member of Kreston, said adopting the brand ‘cements and highlights our relationship with Kreston at a time of mounting demand from clients for international expertise, and growing opportunities for us to benefit from overseas referrals.’

Robert Holland, managing partner at James Cowper added: ‘The Kreston network is important to our firm and those clients with interests overseas.  It ensures that our clients receive the same high level of service overseas as they would from our own offices.’

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