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It’s been a disappointing year for Addleshaws’ national real estate practice group, which nudged turnover up just two percent.
This can’t fail to be contrasted with the firm’s finance and projects team, which grew 16 per cent, and corporate, which grew 13 - albeit both from a lower base.
Even stronger performance was seen in the firm’s corporate and finance groups in London in particular, which soared 29 and 37 per cent respectively.
Managing partner Mark Jones has made no secret of the fact that he has big ambitions for corporate and finance, specifically identifying them as a priority at the beginning of the last financial year.
Jones wants the firm, which currently has some 58 FTSE350 and equivalent panel places, to pick up 70 sometime soon, he says, and investing in the best talent that the City has to offer is part of that equation.
However as one of Addleshaws' northern corporate partners admits, the firm has a lot of work to do before corporate big shots would consider coming on board to what is widely perceived as a real estate-dominated firm. “The perception lags behind the reality,” he says.
Real estate and the firm’s northern base are undoubtedly among Addleshaws’ selling points, despite a bad year for property markets.
Northern offices keep overheads low, and it is from real estate introductions that Addleshaws has been able to springboard into other areas for existing clients.
The firm’s relationship with FTSE350 clients like Sainsbury’s is one example - advice on the supermarket’s property portfolio allowed Addleshaws to extend its remit into other areas.
Further, the firm already has a reputation for more than just real estate in Leeds and Manchester, advising the bulk of the local private equity market and carrying out City-style work at lower rates.
Jones has overseen rapid change at the firm, making major investments in bricks, mortar and people that have boosted Addleshaws' reputation on the Metropolitan scene, and should be congratulated by colleagues for that.
However should that transformation see real estate and the regions being overlooked, the firm risks throwing the baby out with the bathwater. But so far, so good.