Local firm takes on rival giants

A HIGH-STREET practice is fighting back against local big hitters Charles Russell Baldocks and Clyde & Co by adopting an aggressive expansion strategy.

Five-partner Guildford practice Atkins Wilson & Bell will this week acquire Mills Henderson, as well as take on extra staff, to create its fourth office.

The moves come as the major local players continue to consolidate their presence in the area. Charles Russell merged with seven-partner corporate and property outfit Baldocks in July, and Penningtons this month acquired Godalming practice Helman Graham-Smith.

Atkins Wilson senior partner Charles Pfister, who is highly rated locally for his commercial property work, says: “We feel we must expand and there are still suitable firms around, should they become available.”

Practice manager Debbie Howard-Moore says: “If you are a small firm in the provinces, then you do have a problem.”

Rory Fordyce, a partner at Charles Russell's Guildford office, says the firm expanded in Surrey as it was “thick with business parks and very rich in commercial clients, oil and IT companies.”