Thomas Eggar ramps up with £42m Pritchard Englefield deal

Thomas Eggar is set to merge with 40-lawyer London firm Pritchard Englefield, boosting the former’s revenue by 17 per cent to roughly £42m and more than doubling the size of its City base.

Victoria Brackett
Victoria Brackett

The deal is a major move by the South East outfit to bulk up its offering in the capital, which it has been looking to bolster for several years.

The merger goes live on 1 May and will see the firm retain the Thomas Eggar brand, although in London it will keep a reference to Pritchard Englefield on letterheads for roughly a year to maintain recognition for the latter’s European clients.

Thomas Eggar’s revenue is currently around £36m based on current performance, with the firm posting a turnover figure of £34.6m in 2011/12 (13 July 2012). The merger increases Thomas Eggar’s London revenues from £4m to £10m.

Pritchard Englefield, with a turnover of £6m, has five equity partners, all of whom were involved in negotiating the deal, making a vote unnecessary. Three of the quintet will retain their full equity status post-merger, while two will become fixed-share partners.

On the Thomas Eggar side, the tie-up plans received the required 75 per cent mandate from’s equity partners in a vote on 27 March. Staff were informed on Monday (8 April).

Thomas Eggar has consistently mooted the idea of a London merger, first raising the possibility publicly in 2010 (29 March 2010). It has discussed a potential merger with a small number of firms since last May.

Litigator Vicky Brackett has been Thomas Eggar’s managing partner since 1 May 2012, with her current term running until May 2016 (2 April 2012).

The firm will continue to operate with Thomas Eggar’s leadership structure under Brackett as managing partner with the addition of Pritchard Englefield managing partner Ros Ashby as the legacy firm’s sole representative on the ten-strong management board.

Thomas Eggar, registered in Chichester, claims not to have a head office, but its unofficial flagship base is in Crawley. It also has 30 lawyers in London, including nine partners pre-merger, in addition to teams in Gatwick, Newbury, Southampton and Worthing. Pritchard Englefield has roughly 40 lawyers at its sole office in the City, including 15 partners.

Thomas Eggar’s partnership is 58 strong, rising to 62 following the imminent May 2013 round of promotions, with 22 holding equity.

Brackett said a merger was not the only option for building up its practice in the capital, commenting: “Obviously we weren’t bound to merging – we needed a larger office in London to attract the international clients. What this [deal] did was do that more quickly.”

Thomas Eggar’s primary international focus is in private client, with the firm majoring on locations such as the Channel Islands, Singapore and Switzerland. Its strategy is to work with preferred firms abroad. It will retain this outlook following the merger, with Brackett confirming there were no potential conflicts with Pritchard Englefield’s best friends.

Thomas Eggar’s revenues are roughly 35-40 per cent private client, 40 per cent corporate, commercial and services and approximately 20 per cent personal injury.

By contrast, Pritchard Englefields’ non-UK focus is more on the mid-sized corporate and SME side, in particular in Anglo-German and Anglo-French trade, finance and commerce. The firm was once part of legacy Pannone & Partners (now Pannone) after merging with the Manchester firm in 1992 but split off in 1995 (17 January 1995). Both are still the UK members of the Pannone Law Group, an international network of law firms.

Brackett added in a statement: “This is a very exciting time for both firms. The culture and values of the firms are strongly aligned, the teams are technically excellent and the client base of both firms is very complementary. It is a merger which moves Thomas Eggar forward and gives us the base from which to further focus our offering to the market.”

Pritchard Englefield managing partner Ros Ashby said: “Pritchard Englefield has been looking for opportunities to grow for a number of years. We strongly believe this merger is the best way to enable us to deliver an even better offering to our UK and international clients.”

The news follows confirmation of merger talks between private client-focused firms Speechly Bircham and Withers, potentially creating a £170m firm on the brink of the top 20 UK firms (25 March 2013).