The new head of Norwich-based accountancy firm Larking Gowen has revealed plans to grow the business in Suffolk as the firm looks to gain a foothold in the burgeoning energy industry sector.

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Jonathan Woolston, succeeded Bob Rose as managing partner of the £13.5m-a-year firm which employs 280 staff and partners .

Mr Rose will continue with the firm, but the move gives the chance for his successor to serve a full four-year term after winning the vote of his senior colleagues in a special election process.

And the 51-year-old, who was born in Lowestoft, but grew up in Sprowston and Brundall, near Norwich, said he was excited to be taking over as the firm celebrates its 125th anniversary.

“I started with Larking Gowen, so have been with them as man and boy,” Mr Woolston said. “One of the things I really want to do is really grow our presence in Suffolk. Our Ipswich office is a big part of this. We have got a model here that works really well in Norfolk and I don’t see why that couldn’t work equally as well in Suffolk.”

He said he was proud of the fact that the firm’s agricultural specialists enjoyed national recognition, but he felt the Suffolk team could play a leading role in winning business within the energy sector.

“Over the next four years I would like to see that office grow - assuming we can get the right calibre of people in,” he added. “Effectively it’s a four-year post which could be extended by another four years. There is an election process and the candidates involved did a presentation. It was pretty rigorous.”

A keen golfer and Norwich City Football Club season ticket holder, Mr Woolston said greater efficiency was also a key goal for his tenure.

“This is challenging economic time.,” he said. “People want to get proper value for the services they get, it’s an overhead and they do not want to pay more than they have to. We have got to take a look at our back office processes to make them as efficient as possble.

He said the business, which covers most of Norfolk from Cromer to Fakenham to Diss, was also looking at whether it can any inroads into the west of the county by opening an office or taking over an existing firm in the area.

“We have got a good sound business and we are Top 50 accountancy practice,” he added. “I suppose the bit that’s missing is King’s Lynn. We have got a number clients in West Norfolk, so if the right opportunity came along we would think about it, but we would do it off the back of somebody who is already there.

He said while the firm would be celebrating its special anniversary it was also important to be thinking ahead.

“We are very proud of our independence. The 125 years is interesting, but the next four years and 25 years are very important to us too.

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