Shakespeares and Harvey Ingram in talks to create £50m firm

Midlands firm Shakespeares is set to achieve its £50m growth target two years early after entering into exclusive discussions to merge with Leicester-based Harvey Ingram.

The planned tie-up will go live on 1 August, adding £19m in revenues to the £29.6m turnover Shakespeares posted at the 2011-12 year end.

Shakespeares chief executive Paul Wilson said the firm had set out its £50m target in 2009, planning to achieve the aim by 2014. It has bolstered growth through a series of acquisitions, of which Harvey Ingrams is the largest to date.

The deal will add five offices to Shakespeare’s existing network with bases in Leicester, Birmingham, Milton Keynes, Newport Pagnell and Bedford.

“We’ve been friends with Harvey Ingrams over the last two or three years and have talked a lot more in the last two or three months about joining up,” Wilson told The Lawyer.

He continued: “It puts us in a good position as the recession dries up.”

Harvey Ingram managing partner Simon Astill added: “The move will open up a new world of opportunities for us all.”

The details of the deal are yet to be hammered out with management structure and brand yet to be decided.

It is the firm’s fifth merger since April 2010 and its largest to date. Most recently, in December, the firm acquired Solihull-based Wood Glaister (10 November 2011), this came after the tie up with two partner firm Gorrara Haden in October.

In 2010, the legacy firm Shakespeare Putsman merged with £7m Midlands rival Needham & James (8 June 2010), before forging ahead in August with the acquisition of Nottingham-based Berryman (18 August 2010).

Wilson said the firm was considering the next phase of expansion but did not anticipate a further merger in 2012.

Instead Shakespeares is focusing on investing in its internal infrastructure bringing in Guildhall Chambers chief executive Hamish Munro as commercial director with the aim of building the firm’s brand (13 March 2012).

In addition, the firm has recently been joined by head of IT Jenny Bickley, who joins from construction consultancy firm Davis Langdon and HR director Simon Mennell. Wilson said the appointment of a managing director was also in the pipeline.

“The market is full of people looking for direction and we want to be there and be able to offer that to them,” Wilson commented.

At the 2011-12 year end, he added, Shakespeares turnover stood at £29.6m up from £28.4m a year earlier, with net profit of £8m. Average profit per equity partner increased by 4.4 per cent from £182,000 to £190,000.