Grant Thornton sees profit rise after selling wealth advice arm

August Graham, PA City Reporter

Accounting giant Grant Thornton said it had managed to increase profit last year despite the Covid-19 pandemic as it benefited from changes made in the wake of problems at Patisserie Valerie.

The company said it had made a £72 million underlying trading profit last year, up by £9 million from the year before.

More than half of this rise came because the company had sold its loss-making wealth advisory unit to 1825, a company owned by Standard Life.

The deal offloaded a unit which had shaved £5 million off the company’s results in 2019.

The sale – for an undisclosed amount – came amid larger changes at Grant Thornton, one of the most important auditing companies in the UK.

The sector it works in has faced scrutiny in recent years, with Grant Thornton itself the subject of criticism when a major hole was discovered in the books of cake chain Patisserie Valerie.

The company invested millions of pounds to improve its processes in 2019 after the cafe entered administration. It has also set aside around £52 million in provisions that could be used to pay potential fines.

Patisserie Valerie cafe
A major hole was discovered in cake chain Patisserie Valerie’s books (Lauren Hurley/PA)

“Changes started in 2019, when we introduced an operating model that would enable us to thrive – structuring our business in such a way that quality, talent and value were built into everything we do,” chief executive Dave Dunckley said.

“This enabled us to start 2020 in a strong position. Throughout 2020 we have retained this focus, keeping quality, talent and value at the forefront of our decision-making.

“As a result – despite a worldwide pandemic – we delivered strong results and are continuing to move forward with confidence.”

The business did not use the furlough scheme, and revealed that it had managed to refund staff who were asked to take temporary cuts to hours.

Net income dropped from £483 million to £471 million.