Dickinson Dees reports good year despite Rock-based woes

Newcastle’s largest firm Dickinson Dees has announced growth in the turnover of its core business but its volume business, which is primarily property-based, has been hit by the downturn.

The firm’s profits, which have not been finalised yet, are expected to be hit by the decline of the volume business this year. Excluding the volume business, turnover at the firm has grown by around 12 per cent to £53.4m from £47.7m.

Managing partner Jonathan Blair said: “The reality is of course that the volume business, ‘D3’, operates in that sector that has been affected by the global downturn. But the core business results are very much in keeping with other firms we compare ourselves to.”

The strongest growth was seen by the company and commercial department, which grew by 22 per cent against last year. The practice group contributes around a third to total revenues at the firm and includes such areas as banking and projects.

The firm’s other major departments of litigation, private client and property grew by around 7 to 8 per cent each.

Turnover at the fledgling York office, meanwhile, doubled to £2m against a background of moving into new offices and seeing its headcount triple to around 50 staff in total, including six to seven partners.

The volume business, however, which has been rebranded as a separate entity ‘D3’, has suffered from its specialisation in conveyancing, remortgaging, Home Information Packs (HIPs), and repossessions.

Particularly the conveyancing and remortgaging business has dropped away and will effect profits, but Blair said that because work on HIPs and repossessions has made up some of the slack the decrease in PEP would not be a “significant” one.

The size of the volume business, which saw 17 of its 180 staff made redundant in the aftermath of the Northern Rock collapse (as reported 26 November 2007), has further shrunk to around 150 staff since then, reflecting “natural attrition”, explained Blair.