Irwin Mitchell has announced it will merge with Thomas Eggar in a move which will create a £250m firm with more than 270 partners.
Currently, Irwin Mitchell operates from 11 offices across the country but the merger will see it gain a further six. The deal will provide Irwin Mitchell with its first footing in the south east outside of London. However, the firm will look to use the merger for further expansion.
Irwin Mitchell group CEO Andrew Tucker told The Lawyer: “The significant point for both of us is that this is an opportunity to do more. We’re not here putting two organisations together and then spending a year effecting an integration and that’s all we hope to achieve from it.
“We see it as a platform for further growth and we’ll be investing further, particularly in Thomas Eggar’s existing office footprint with the view to expanding market share across the South East region and of course in London.”
Tucker declined to comment on whether the expansion would involve lateral hires or further mergers stating that the firm would look to “build out its strategy for further growth” while the two firms integrated.
The merger will see Irwin Mitchell benefit from Thomas Eggar’s expertise in the retail, financial services, technology and media and manufacturing sectors. It will also diversify the firm’s current specialisms in corporate, employment, commercial litigation, banking and intellectual property law.
As a result of the deal the firm’s real estate team will double in size to 160 lawyers and 50 partners. Both firms focus primarily on commercial real estate although Thomas Eggar also specialises in agricultural business and estates as well as residential property.
Thomas Eggar has previously stated that it was taking a strategic move away from personal injury (PI) work due to decreased profitability. Tucker said that PI did not play a deciding role in merger negotiations with the real benefit stemming from the firm’s other practice areas.
Another major growth area for the firm will be in the private wealth sector. In 2014 Irwin Mitchell acquired Mayfair based private client firm Berkeley Law, which is estimated to have a turnover between £3m and £4m. The addition of the Thomas Eggar team will win the firm a place as one of the largest five private wealth teams in the country.
The contracts have already been signed and the merger will be completed in December 2015. Thomas Eggar’s 450 employees and 67 partners will transfer to Irwin Mitchell. Both Thomas Eggar and Berkeley Law will adopt the Irwin Mitchell brand during the first half of 2016. Thomas Eggar’s managing partner Vicky Brackett will join Irwin Mitchell as a member of its executive board.
However, the move could see many of Thomas Eggar’s support staff transferred out of the company. In 2011 Irwin Mitchell transferred 81 of its support staff to business process outsourcing (BPO) company OCS. Tucker told The Lawyer a similar outsourcing deal was likely to take place in the future involving the teams from Thomas Eggar.
Last year Thomas Eggar saw its revenue remain flat at £41.1m while the firm’s avergage profit per equity partner (PEP) stood at £260,000, according to this year’s UK 200: Top 100 report. In comparison Irwin Mitchell saw revenue increase by 3.9 per cent, from £202.7m to £210.6m during the 2014/15 financial year.