Greaves West & Ayre is enjoying a year of celebrations to commemorate its 100-year Anniversary after first establishing its offices in Berwick upon Tweed at the end of 1918. As the First World War drew to a close Arthur Greaves, an entrepreneurial accountant based in Newcastle, signed a lease for an office at 1/3 Sandgate, Berwick-upon-Tweed.
The Berwick office was to be a further expansion which already had branches in Alnwick, Amble and Carlisle. “Greaves & Armstrong” opened its doors manned by a small handful of staff lead by Francis Rowley, supported by John Ayre. In 1922 Greaves split with his partner Herbert Armstrong and the Berwick office then traded under the name of “Greaves & Co.”
Over the following100 years the association with other firms fell away and “Greaves West & Ayre” became an independent practice. The firm now employs around 110 staff at its Berwick office with another 10 at its Haddington office.
The firm steadily established itself in the inter war years with Arthur West becoming a partner along with John Ayre. Disaster struck however in 1947, with the premature death of John Ayre at the age of 49. Gordon Ayre, John’s son, who at that time was enjoying a career in the Royal Navy, resigned his commission and returned to qualify as fast as he could to help ensure the firm’s survival.
Andrew Ayre, Partner at GWA said, “We still act for many families and businesses who came to us during the inter war years. It is quite humbling what was achieved in that very difficult era, the building of a strong and enduring business whose legacy still continues today.”
As well as achieving organic growth based on their philosophy of “Quality Advice, Quality Service”, Greaves West and Ayre also grew by acquisition and merger. The acquisition of Fleming & Wood in 1993 expanded the Northumberland side of the practice. The more recent merger with Haddington based practice N C Campbell & Co in 2016, reinforced the firm’s presence in the Lothians.
Success meant that inevitably Greaves West & Ayre were to outgrow their original office in Sandgate, though this was maintained as its address for nearly 100 years. Various other properties were leased and acquired until by the early 2000’s the firm was occupying six separate offices in Berwick town centre as well as two off site storage facilities.
In 2017, after looking at many options, the firm was able to consolidate onto one purpose-built site in Walkergate, providing a state-of-the-art working environment for employees and clients alike.
Since moving to Walkergate, the firm has expanded its staff and now acts for around 5,000 clients from across the country with around 40% of clients based outside the firm’s immediate catchment area.
Richard Ayre, the most recent member of the founding family to become a Partner, added, “The years ahead will be challenging for everyone and professional service businesses will evolve to meet those challenges. But with our talented partners and staff we are well placed to celebrate many more anniversaries in the decades ahead.
“We have already started to celebrate this special milestone and are looking forward to commemorating our Centenary over the coming months in 2019 and meeting the many people who have played a part in the last 100 years. We are also relishing the prospect of being able to provide the same Quality Advice – Quality Service that has allowed us to thrive and grow in our next 100 years.”