There’s a new name above the office entrances of one of the most long-established and respected accountancy practices in the North-East.

Formerly Baldwins, the firm has rebranded as Azets, and is now a top 10 UK accountancy firm with the largest UK network of local offices and more than 160 offices worldwide.

Paul Topham, managing partner of Azets’ Durham office, on the Belmont Business Park, said: “In September we rebranded as Azets, and now provide corporate finance, a unique banking and finance service as well as the traditional accounting, tax, audit, business and advisory services.

“It’s an exciting time for us because there’s a huge amount of extra experience and expertise that we can tap into within the group to the benefit of our clients, in conjunction with the same familiar people that they’ve come to know and trust locally.”

The 75 staff Paul oversees in the Durham office are part of a workforce that is more than 200 strong, operating out of offices across the North-East.

Joining the Azets brand will help coordinate and focus growth, to allow the accountancy practice to flourish in a fastchanging world.

Paul explained: “One of the challenges we were facing as an organisation was we ended up with too many different brands across the group. Having one brand will give us more clarity in the marketplace.

“It’s not a takeover or merger, it’s purely a rebrand – new name, same team.

“For us as a group, one of the benefits of pulling the brands together is it allows us to give one clear message to clients about who we are, our reach and the type of accountancy practice we are.”

Part of that message is that Azets is at the very forefront of digitisation – they are the only accountants who are platinum ambassadors for all the major software accounting packages on the market – the likes of Sage, QuickBook and Xero Beyond that though, they have developed their own in-house software, CoZone – a customised portal, which acts as a secure document exchange between adviser and client.

“We’re very proud of CoZone,” admits Paul.

“It’s such a good way of doing things, it’s a secure and efficient way to send documents digitally between us and clients and is a real time-saver.

“There is no waiting for the post, and you can imagine the time saving there, particularly when filing deadlines are tight.

“Clients can of course still use pen and paper. However, we feel that the important thing is to be able to offer that digital service first, as the change to digitisation for everyone is happening quickly.

“Covid-19 has only accelerated that process.”

The company remains very much aware that not all clients are tech-savvy and for those who are not, the traditional methods will be retained.

Personal contact, solid relationships and attention to each individual client are the hallmarks of Azets’ service and in-person meetings are still welcomed.

“We pride ourselves on providing a local, professional service,” adds Paul.

“We’re very conscious you need to have local knowledge.

“Clients are seeing the value in virtual meetings, saving them the cost and the commute. We have developed tech which will provide time-savings compared to the usual, labour intensive data input processes used in the past.

“But it is about much more than just being an end-of-year compliance service. Digitisation will be able to free us up to provide timely high-level advice that clients need to run their businesses.

“It’s an exciting time ahead.”

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