Eighteen months ago Reading firm Boyes Turner (Boyes Turner Burrows as it was then) decided the time had come for some radical changes.
Questions were presumably asked about the efficiency of the practice in a market of increasing competition and about new business acquisition, resulting in some realisations all-round. The first move in the new regime was the recruitment of Bond Pearce's former director of resources Andrew Chalkley, who started in April 1999.
Chalkley now bears the grand title of chief executive and spends all his time on management. Chalkley says: “When I arrived I spoke to our professional contacts. Their view of us was that we were very good but they were worried about whether we had the breadth and depth to do the next tier of work.”
Repositioning and clarity of direction were the issues that Chalkley targeted. “We are not just a business services firm, but obviously the growth in the Thames Valley is going to be business-services focused. So we dual-branded the firm.” On one side business services and the other private client, effectively reinventing itself twice. “We market them very differently and tailor the services that we provide towards the two very different markets.” Each brand has its own logo, marketing literature, note paper, even website.
Well over £100,000 has been reinvested in the firm over the last year-and-a-half. Business services is the area that will yield the most profit so will receive the most investment and the majority of the new headcount. Turnover in 1999 was just £4m, but has risen to £6m. Not bad.
Practical changes were made in March with the relocation of the two offices to the single-site 22,000sq ft office in Abbots House. This new open-plan arrangement offers the scope for 200 people. There are currently 110 staff – including 17 partners and 39 other fee-earners. The intention is to expand to fill the available space within three to five years.
“The growth in the Thames Valley is going to be business-services focused. So we dual-branded the firm”
Andrew Chalkley, Boyes Turner
Well-publicised additions to the firm are Peter McGeown and Denise Drammis, the private client team from Nabarro Nathanson. “When the team came on the market we realised that they would fit in very nicely,” says Chalkley. “They have a portfolio of high network clients and are two good lawyers. Do that five times over and I will be a very happy man.”
Partners Mark Archer and Martin Reynolds joined earlier this year from Clarks, employment partner Barry Stanton started mid-September, and Lisa Tarr joined from Osborne Clarke.
“This year we have won three panel appointments that we would not have won this time last year,” says Chalkley. “We got on to the Met Office panel; Vivendi panel – we are doing quite a lot of work for their UK subsidiary Onyx; and the Barclays lending and finance panel.” Other clients include software company Oracle, Ericsson and IT services management company Pink Elephant.
Boyes Turner is never going to compete with the larger London firms. But the changes it has instigated will at least keep it up to par in an increasingly tough Thames Valley market.