Hammonds' management team is gunning to raise profits per partner by at least 45 per cent, to more than £400,000, by April 2003 and has told partners that not achieving this will represent failure

The ambitious statement has been made by senior partner Richard Burns and managing partner Chris Jones in a document seen by The Lawyer, entitled 'New Horizon Implementation Plan for year ending April 2003'.

Last year, Hammonds' average profits per partner fell by more than 10 per cent to £275,000.

In the document, Burns and Jones do not make clear whether failing to achieve the £400,000 target by next April will represent a failure of the firm or the partners.

A previous publication entitled 'New Horizon' was a glossy brochure outlining Hammonds' future strategic direction. It was published in January 2000, and the implementation plan is an update to partners on progress.

The new document states that partners have been inhibiting profitability by not cross-selling the services of other departments to their clients. It also admits to various cost-cutting strategies that were carried out in the second half of the last financial year in a bid to raise profitability.

The firm has carried out a review of how many equity points, or what share of the profits, equity partners should have, and the number of points in issue has been reduced by 20 per cent.

According to the firm, the number of equity points in issue has been reduced by 15 per cent as a result of enforced resignations, adjusting allocation of equity points and retirements. A further 5 per cent cut has been achieved through equity partners retiring.

Eighteen partners, a mixture of equity and salaried, have left Hammonds over the last 12 months.

In a separate move, Hammonds finance director Richard Lumsden retired from the firm a week last Friday (1 November).