Newcastle-headquartered Watson Burton reached its 200th birthday in 2011, but the firm continued to struggle after losing a number of partners in recent years, including senior partner Rob Langley. Langley announced his departure for rival firm Muckle in April 2010 and was replaced as senior partner by Gillian Hall two months later.
Departures during 2010-11 included those of insolvency head Andrew Cawkwell, wealth management head Keith Hately, who also joined Muckle, and real estate head Simon Scougall, who went in-house at Bellway.
Estimated turnover dropped to £13.2m, £10m down from the 2007-08 high of £23m. Profitability is also likely to be hit.
On a more positive note, Watson Burton retained its place on the Taylor Wimpey and One North East panels, while Scougall’s exit to a key client could help the firm maintain its relationship with Bellway. Nevertheless, Watson Burton’s declining headcount will not make it easy for the firm to regain the ground it has lost since 2007-08.