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Hammonds’ average profits per equity partner (PEP) have slumped by 18 per cent, from £330,000 to £272,000.
Senior partner Richard Burns remained defiant, stating that the firm still intends to smash a self-imposed target of £400,000 average PPP by the end of the next financial year.
“We’re disappointed with that result,” he said, “but that’s a figure that represents a year’s performance. This business has invested and the benefits will flow through from those investments, and we have every intention that they will flow through this year. How much? Who knows?”
Turnover for 2003-04 is down 1 per cent to £136m, which includes a £7.1m loss of revenue due to the departure of the entire commercial insurance team at the beginning of the last financial year and the demerger of the firm’s debt collection business.
Four years ago, Hammonds decided to demerge all of its volume businesses, which included debt collection. Despite a number of partners departing, the firm has continued to recruit – the equity partnership has grown from 89 lawyers at the end of the last financial year to 95 this time round.
“We’ve taken the difficult decision to shape this business in a particular way and we’ve taken the cost of doing that into the last three years’ accounts,” explained Burns.
Hammonds’ performance almost exactly mirrored that of Wragge & Co, which reported static turnover at £79.3m and a 17 per cent drop in profits per partner to £210,000.