Early profit predictions show mixed fortunes for regional firms, with some recording a dip in fortunes while others are beginning to close the gap with their national mid-market rivals.
Halliwells, which in January carried out its first-ever merger with Liverpool firm Cuff Roberts, saw its turnover rise by an impressive 23 per cent to £50m. Halliwells managing partner Ian Austin is predicting another landmark profit, with profit per equity partner (PEP) expected to hit the £400,000 mark for the first time.
Mergers have not been so kind to Cobbetts. The firm carried out four mergers with niche firms in Birmingham and Leeds between September 2003 and September 2004, and now has a turnover of £50m. PEP, though, is predicted to drop by 5 per cent, dipping below £200,000 for the first time in several years.
Cobbetts managing partner Michael Shaw said: "We've achieved what we set out to achieve and it was never going to be a short-term strategy."
Shaw added that Cobbetts should see profits grow in the next year as the firm consolidates.
North West firm Weightmans has had a stellar year, with an average PEP rise of 28 per cent. This takes the firm's PEP to £185,000 from 2003's £145,000.
Managing partner Patrick Gaul said the growth had come across the board, with the firm's volume debt business being particularly busy.
Newcastle firm Dickinson Dees has also seen significant growth, breaking the £300,000 barrier to a predicted £336,000 PEP - up 20 per cent from 2003's £280,000. The rise follows a dip in 2003 following investment in people, which has paid dividends over the past 12 months.
While it has not seen the dramatic growth of other firms, Pannone & Partners continues to improve steadily. PEP is expected to increase by around 10 per cent to approximately £245,000 this year, after a similar rise between 2003 and 2004.