Irwin Mitchell puts flotation plans on a backburner

Irwin Mitchell has shelved plans for a stock market flotation despite previously indicating that an IPO could be a part of its future.

John Pickering
John Pickering

The firm has repeatedly outlined its ambition to secure £50m of external investment following the SRA’s approval of its multiple-strand ABS application, which saw it receive five ABS licences (20 August 2012).

In 2011, group chief executive John Pickering, who was then managing parter, announced the firm’s ambition to take on the mid-tier legal sector (25 April 2011). The firm said all options were on the table, including an IPO.

However, as the group posted its consolidated accounts for 2011/12, which showed a turnover of £187m, Pickering sounded a note of caution (8 February 2013).

He said: “At the moment we’re working very nicely on an overdraft. We don’t need to give any equity of the business away unless there’s a serious need as a consequence to develop the strategy – for example a major deal.”

The accounts showed that the firm had net debt af £13.7m at the end of 2011/12 and bank loans and overdrafts of £15.2m for 2011/12.

Pickering said: “At the moment we’re just doing what we’re doing with small deals and lateral hiring.

“We’re quite happy with that position because the firm is being run in an efficient way. Sure, we’ve got things to improve on such as converting WIP [work in progress] into cash and bringing down debtor days, but this is a very healthy set of numbers.”

Irwin Mitchell has five ABS licenses covering businesses operating separately within the firm’s group structure, including Irwin Mitchell LLP; Ascent Collections Ltd, which offers field agency and debt collection services; Coris UK Ltd, which offers international assistance and insurance claims handling services; Irwin Mitchell Trustees Ltd, which accepts appointments as a trustee, executor and estate administrators; and Irwin Mitchell Trust Corporation Ltd, which accepts appointments to act as deputy from the court of protection.

It is waiting to hear whether a sixth licence has been approved after acquiring agency and arrears management company PDP Management Services (12 October 2012).

Pickering said the firm was continuing to target similar-sized opportunities and lateral hires to grow its business legal services side and improve the balance of the litigation-heavy firm.