Newcastle firm Watson Burton has shrugged off the current downturn to announce a 16 per cent turnover increase for the first half of the current financial year.
Practice areas driving the growth are litigation, property development and construction. Senior partner Andrew Hoyle said that corporate is also doing well despite a weak market. "The whole market is quieter, certainly in the North of England," he said. "We're managing to make slight headway rather than go backwards." He observed that the first six months of a financial year are usually quieter than the six months that follow. A 16 per cent rise in turnover is a good start to what could be a difficult year. "We're holding our own and I'd like to think we're doing slightly better than that," said Hoyle. For the last financial year, the firm reported a turnover of £7.9m. The firm introduced its first managing director, Patrick Harwood, in June, who has concentrated on strategic development. Hoyle said: "Patrick's helping fee-earners manage their files in a more business-like fashion." The fee-earners are concentrating on business development and legal work. Hiring construction and litigation partner Roddy Gordon from local rival Robert Muckle has boosted that practice group, and Nicholas Craig's arrival from Eversheds has led to an increased focus on China. Craig and Watson Burton have set up an inward-outward investment consultancy, specifically targeting opportunities in China. Hoyle said: "China's a booming economy, albeit an infant one. It's from there that Nicholas is getting instructions." The firm has picked up a number of clients with an interest in China since Craig joined and setting up a consultancy is one way to introduce new clients to the firm. Watson Burton has rebranded itself to match its increasingly commercial focus. Hoyle said that he was quietly optimistic for the second half of the year.