Freeths sets out stall to double turnover by 2020 after expansive year

Freeths (formerly Freeth Cartwright) is targeting further mergers in a bid to become a £100m business after the integration of Oxford firm Henmans took turnover to £49.9m for the last financial year.

The firm’s figures included Henmans Freeth, in which it took a stake in February 2013, for the first time (8 October 2012). Turnover rose by 23 per cent from £40.6m in 2012/13, although this figure did not include approximately £9m brought in by Henmans.

Henmans Freeth operated as a separate LLP until 1 June this year, when it was brought into the Freeths group as the firm rebranded from Freeth Cartwright. However chief executive Peter Smith said the process of integration had begun as soon as Henmans joined the firm.

Differing financial years for Freeths and Henmans Freeth makes exact like-for-like comparisons difficult, but Smith said revenue for Freeths had risen by approximately 7.5 per cent once exceptional items had been taken out of the equation.

Those included a large one-off piece of work which had positively impacted on both turnover and profit for the previous year, as well as the decision to take a financial services business which was not core to the firm’s strategy out of the accounts. That business represented about £400,000 of revenue.

As well as integrating Henmans, Freeths added a Leeds office in December last year (10 December 2013). The expansion follows several years of acquisitions and growth which have seen the firm open in London (26 April 2010) and expand in Birmingham (12 October 2011), as well as merging with Milton Keynes firm Kimbells (16 September 2011) and Stoke on Trent firm KJD.

Smith said the firm was targeting turnover of £100m by 2020 and would look to do so both through international growth and more mergers.

“We’re looking for mergers that will bring additional services to the group,” he said. “Not completely different, but something that adds value.”

When compared to the previous financial year’s results, excluding Henmans, average profit per equity partner (PEP) was roughly stable. The firm reported PEP of £253,000 for 2013/14, compared to £258,000 for 2012/13. Net profit was £10.4m, a margin of 20.8 per cent, less than one percentage point down on 2012/13 results.