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With hard work and rebranding BP Collins has updated its practice
This month, Berkshire-based firm BP Collins is relaunching itself in a bid to reposition itself. Partner David Stanning says: "We do some fairly substantial corporate work for SMEs [small to medium-sized enterprises]. It was about getting the image across. It's as if you have to be in the big city to know what you are doing." BPC Business Lawyers, as the corporate side of the business is now known, has been expanded over the past four years. Traditionally it has been partner-heavy, but now there are three partners who have the additional support of six associates and a trainee. "It took some vision to build because it took a long time to build up street cred," says Stanning. The firm has recently acted on major transactions such as the establishment of a joint venture company for Mayflower Corporation. It advised and assisted with the setting up of new entity Mayflower Energy to work with Vestas Celtic Wind Technology to pursue a wind turbine project. The joint venture company is responsible for the operation of a ship to install turbines. Stanning says: "Offshore lease discussions were interesting. There are new dimensions such as dilapidations - how do you prove the original state of the seabed? "The other challenge was getting the shareholders agreement together. Negotiating the what-ifs." The joint venture company went on to secure a £74m contract with National Wind Power. The other major transaction that BP Collins has been involved in recently is a series of acquisitions over 18 months for US company Mobile Storage Group. It culminated in the acquisition of Ravenstock Tam, now Ravenstock MSG. The deal came via an introduction from a smaller container organisation. Stanning says: "We got on famously and they had the courage, as we see it, not to go to the City to do all this." There are 17 partners in all, with another 26 fee-earners. The firm operates out of two centres - Gerrards Cross and Beaconsfield. As there are no buildings in Gerrards Cross that could house the entire partnership, the teams are spread across three offices in the town. Stanning says: "It isn't ideal. My employment team is split from corporate." Fortunately the offices are on the same street so interaction is possible. Beaconsfield houses the private client team. The firm is keen to maintain its reputation for providing private client advice in such a wealthy area. It is likely to provide a buffer for any slump that may be felt on the commercial side. So what are the problems to overcome? "It's a challenge to get people to change their working practices and recognise that clients are more demanding," says Stanning. "Email doesn't give you the space we had when things were posted; you had two days to think of something else. There are now dangers in reacting too quickly. You can also lose the ability to communicate."