Clarke Willmott poaches partner

Leading south-west firm Clarke Willmott & Clarke has poached a property partner from rival firm Battens.

Nick Francombe will join the Taunton office of the Bristol-based 43-partner firm, sparking a decision by Battens to close its office in the Somerset capital.

Fellow Battens partners Nigel Gosden and Russell Pearce have also decided to leave the office, moving to south-west firm Bevan Ashford and Taunton PI firm Harris Fowler respectively.

With 15 partners and 47 assistants Clarke Willmott & Clarke claims to have the region's largest property team, with clients including Nationwide Building Society and Swan Hill Homes.

Francombe is taking his associate and a number of clients with him to the new firm, although he refuses to name the clients.

He says: “I have been very pleased with the response I have had from my clients, who have mostly indicated that they will follow me.”

Head of Clarke Willmott's commercial property team Roger Seaton says: “While we work with major developers, landowners and property investors throughout the country, local knowledge is a key factor for many of our south-west clients.

“Nick and Chris are well known to the commercial property sector in Somerset, and will add to the strength of our Taunton offices.”

Andy Marshall, chief executive of seven-office firm Battens, says the Taunton office is closing because the three partners left and consequently the office was no longer viable. He says the firm's clients will continue to be served by the Yeovil office.