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The impact of Speechly Bircham’s merger with London outfit Campbell Hooper last year helped boost turnover by 28 per cent, the firm’s annual LLP accounts reveal.
The tie-up, which went live on 1 June 2009, saw turnover rise from £45.7m to £58.5m. This allowed the firm to move up 11 places in The Lawyer’s UK 200 for 2009-10, jumping from a ranking of 63 to 52.
The firm admitted its performance in the last financial year, which ran from 1 May 2009 to 30 April 2010, had “exceeded our hopes for the combined firm set at the time of the merger”. Merger aside, the figures also represent an underlying turnover growth of 8 per cent across the firm.
The tie-up with the West End firm saw 90 staff, including 23 partners, move to Speechly’s office at New Square Street, and resulted in a 21 per cent rise in staff costs, from £17.8m to £21.6m. The firm also made around half a dozen lateral partner hires in the last year including Wedlake Bell pensions partner Jane Wolstenholme, financial services partner Jonathan Bayliss from Farrer & Co, and IP partner Robert Bell from Nabarro.
Operating profit rose 42.9 per cent to £23m, while average profit per equity partner was up 29.6 per cent to £429,000. The highest payout to a partner in the year was £551,000, up 31 per cent from £420,000 in the previous financial year.
The firm, which operates without an overdraft, also managed to reduce the amount owed in bank loans from £9.8m to £8.2m, though the amount owing from trade debtors increased from £13.6m in 2008-09 to £20m in 2009-10. No assets or liabilities were acquired as part of the merger.
In the firm’s statement of accounts, managing partner Michael Lingens said: “Our financial results show impressive growth in revenues over the previous year. Despite the decline in property and corporate markets, we continued to benefit from our broad practice, with activity in private client and other advisory areas particularly strong.
“Transactional work seemed to revive in the last few months of the financial year and activity levels have continued well across the board into the new financial year.”
Areas targeted for investment in the coming year include financial services, private wealth, real estate and construction.