Eversheds is shutting down its Bristol office, its second closure in less than five months.
The closure of the 10-partner office is due to be finalised by 1 May, the beginning of the firm’s financial year, and will leave it without a presence in the South of England.
All the staff at the Bristol office, which totals 61 people including 25 fee-earners, have been offered a chance to relocate to Cardiff.
In September last year the firm closed its Middlesbrough office, moving its three partners and 29 staff to the larger Newcastle base (The Lawyer, 18 September).
Managing partner David Ansbro estimates that the closure will save the firm “hundreds of thousands of pounds”, since lawyers are currently dispersed throughout five locations in Cardiff and Bristol.
He says: “We’re not looking at cutting cost in an emotional way, we’re bringing them down to drive up profits. This is a big business and it’s a shame for the people in Bristol who work there, but this shows where we can gain value from, and if that means we have to reduce costs, then so be it.”
The first indication of change at the offices came last week, when the management at the Cardiff and Bristol offices underwent a shakeup (The Lawyer, 29 January).
Regional managing partner David Vokes was replaced by insurance litigation partner Bryan Hughes, who will oversee the region with senior partner Alan Meredith. The closure is part of a wider business review to ensure that the firm is a more integrated practice. The Bristol office is a result of a merger with niche firm Holts Philips in 1994.
Three weeks ago it was revealed that Eversheds was intending to cut 10 per cent of its partners out of equity (The Lawyer, 15 January).
Three years ago, Eversheds attempted to merge its Bristol office with local firm Veale Wasbrough, but talks collapsed after two months (The Lawyer, 25 January 1999).
Eversheds’ move to consolidate its position in the Cardiff market arrives just two months after Bristol firm Bevan Ashford revealed that it was scaling back its Welsh presence (The Lawyer, 18 December).
While Ansbro would not reveal the Bristol clients, he said they had been consulted and were happy about the relocation to Cardiff.