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Speechly Bircham must look back to 2009/10 with an air of nostalgia. Back then the firm pulled off a merger with Campbell Hooper to boost revenue by 37 per cent, to £58.4m. The tie-up also helped the firm’s average profit per equity partner (PEP) to rocket by 29 per cent, from £331,000 to £428,000.
Since then, finances have been heading decidedly south. Despite global net profit inching up, revenue in 2012/13 shrunk to £57.5m, while global PEP fell to £293,000 – its lowest since 2003/04.
To transform its fortunes, Speechlys seems to have one thing on its mind: getting profitability back on track. As well as squirrelling away cash (cutting headcount and sub-letting space at its flashy City office), Speechlys is seeking to foster a dependable overseas network.
In two years it has transformed from a single-site London firm to a five-office European outfit. It took its first baby-steps onto the Continent in June 2011 when it pitched up in Luxembourg and Zurich. Those offices bedded in so well that Luxembourg upgraded into larger digs in April.
Keeping up the momentum, Speechlys made its debut in Geneva in September and sashayed into Paris just last week.
“We’re becoming increasingly international in focus,” says senior partner Michael Lingens.
Last year, Speechlys’ international offices generated £2.3m of revenue – or 4 per cent of global turnover. Lingens will have his fingers crossed that the moves into Europe will help shepherd PEP back in the right direction.