Bermans' City office buys out of firm

LIVERPOOL firm Bermans has acknowledged the failure of its London venture with the sale of its City office to the team it hired to set it up four years ago.

Bermans senior partner Alan Middleton says the firm may not have recouped all its investment with the sale to the London management team headed by David Orchard.

But the office had not developed in the way Bermans envisaged and it was right to agree to a management buy-out in the face of pressure from London partners for further expansion, he says.

Both sides in the deal, however, insist it is an amicable move.

Orchard says the London office, a corporate commercial City operation, had become a completely different animal to the rest of the firm, but there was no threat of a walk-out by partners.

“I didn't hold a gun against anybody's head,” he says. “There was virtually no overlap between London and the other offices.

“To be labelled as a debt collecting, leasing and factoring specialist was not very helpful for us, and the same goes for Bermans.”

Middleton says Bermans had always wanted the London office to be an expansion of its northern practice.

He says the firm wrongly believed work from its US office would flow more naturally into London and traditional clients based in the South East would prefer working with a nearby office.

Orchard's drive to expand into new fields was only the third factor in the equation.

“It was the one thing that took off, making it a different office to the others.”

The new City firm is called Orchard and its managing partner does not rule out the possibility of further expansion in the next six months.

He acknowledges the absence of a New York office will be felt by the new venture but says that he is very excited by the prospect of going it alone.