FFW partners vote to merge with Manchester firm Heatons

Field Fisher Waterhouse (FFW) is set to combine with eight-partner Manchester boutique Heatons, after partners voted in favour of a merger last week.

The tie up will boost FFW’s capacity in the region from one to eight partners, with the firm’s small team intending to move into Heatons’ office space when the merger goes live on 1 April 2014. 

Heatons’ current managing partner Matthew Fleetwood will head up the new office, with a view to growing the merged firm in the North West. 

According to Heatons’ unaudited LLP’s, it had a strong 2012/13. The firm’s revenue increased by 45 per cent, from £2.2m to £3.4m, while profit for the financial year before members’ remuneration and profit shares leapt up from £311,217 to £1.2m. 

Meanwhile, FFW’s audited turnover dropped from £99.1m in 2011/12 to £96.7m last year. Net profit rose slightly, from £33.1m to 33.3m. 

The combination will take FFW’s revenue above the £100m mark for the first time in its history. 

The two firms have been in merger discussions since last summer, when FFW made a board-level decision to expand its Manchester presence. 

Managing partner Michael Chissick said: “The performance of our Manchester office has been solid but unexciting. It was a question of analysing the market and looking to see what was available. We picked up the phone to a number of firms, and they were all interested in speaking to us.” 

He added that Heatons’ specialisms in corporate, disputes, construction, property and IP work complement FFWs existing practice. 

“We’re not trying to become a national firm, but we did want a sizeable non-London location,” Chissick continued. “Manchester gives us access to the North West.” 

FFW’s Manchester office has focused primarily on public and regulatory work, with the group’s head Sarah Ellson being the outpost’s sole permanent partner.

The firm, which has a close relationship with the BBC, has also set its sights on increasing its media presence in the region. “It’s becoming a major centre for media, which is an exciting springboard for our business,” Chissick added.