DWF’s borrowings soar 20 per cent to £33m

DWF’s total borrowings have risen by 20 per cent, from £27.1m to £33.1m, according to its 2014/15 LLP accounts.

The firm’s total borrowings due within one year increased by £19m to £32m last year largely due to a major increase in its bank loans.

During 2013/14 DWF’s bank loans due within one year stood at £6.2m. This sum increased to £21.3m during 2014/15. Similarly the firm’s overdraft increased 61 per cent from £6.7m to £10.8m last year.

The changes resulted in a 27 per cent increase in DWF’s net debt, which rose from £23.6m to £30.2m.

DWF managing partner and CEO Andrew Leaitherland said in a statement: “Last year we made significant strategic investments in talent, technology and infrastructure that take a long-term view to increasing our market share over the next five years. Specifically, our investments to support international growth, our £12m investment in technology which is helping us deliver a better service to our clients and help our people, the launch of our tech arm 15squared, plus the launch of our new service delivery models which were a defining aspect of last year.

“We’re confident that these substantial investments will put us in a stronger position for the future. We’re an ambitious business and we intend to remain operating at the forefront of delivering legal services differently.”

In the introduction to the accounts DWF chairman Alan Benzie said: “Over the next year I want us to increase our net profit and margins, leveraging out previous investments in areas such as technology, and keep our momentum moving forward.

“With a robust operating and governance structure in place, our work is now to ensure that our processes and systems can support DWF’s £200m business.”

Benzie said DWF could be a top 15 law firm in terms of its financial results and its “professional expertise”. According to The Lawyer’s UK 200: The Top 100 report DWF was the UK’s 22nd biggest law firm by turnover last year.

The accounts also confirmed that DWF’s turnover increased by 1 per cent from £189m to £191.1m. Profit at the firm fell by 7 per cent from £49.3m to £45.8m.

The firm’s static growth has been attributed to DWF’s three-year investment strategy. As part of this investment the firm made 22 partner level lateral hires during the 2014/15 financial year.

DWF’s UK-only strategy was torn up when it launched its first overseas office in Dubai. The office launched with four lawyers and is led by marine insurance partner Chris Ryan.

Since then the firm has opened an office in Brussels with a team focusing on central and local government work as well as the food, retail, transport, energy and industrial sectors.

DWF’s third overseas office opened last month when the firm merged with German boutique BridgehouseLaw. The merger is set to increase the firm’s turnover by £3m.