Buy and buy

ome firms are shopping for others like there’s no tomorrow

It is a buyers market out there, with M&A topping the agenda of many firms.

Take Manchester-headquartered Linder Myers, which completed one acquisition and two mergers in just 24 hours last week. The firm is keeping schtum about how much it paid to buy SNG Commercial out of administration, so we can’t say for sure if it was the thrill of a bargain that spurred on the shopping trip.

What we can say, however, is that the firm appears to be on a three-year splurge as it aims for £25m turnover by 2015.

There are a few of these acquisitive types around at the moment – Shakespeares, for example, completed its fifth merger in little more than two years in August, getting together with Harvey Ingrams.

For Linder Myers the plan seems to be to buy up firms with varying degrees of profitability. In January it acquired Manchester’s Rowlands Field Cunningham, again from pre-pack administration. This sparked a year of buyouts that included a link with Turnbull Garrard in June, followed last week by mergers with Chester’s Drummonds Solicitors and Lancashire-based Senior Calveley & Hardy Solicitors.

All this has helped the firm grow from a £10m operation to a £19.7m outfit in less than two years.

Yet there are warnings. As one managing partner says: “Chasing turnover, especially if that increases your borrowings, is risky. Cash and profit must be part of the plan or we know what can happen, especially in a fragile economy.”

Let’s hope the retail therapy pays off.