Cripps looks to dominate Kent with Vertex Law merger

Tunbridge Wells-headquartered Cripps Harries Hall will merge with fellow Kent firm Vertex Law at the end of September.

Property-focused Cripps, where real estate contributed 43 per cent of turnover in 2012/13, is taking over a firm best known for corporate and commercial matters in a deliberate bid to better balance its client offering.

Cripps’ managing partner Gavin Tyler, who became firm head earlier this year (15 April 2013), said he had been looking to grow the firm and the merger with a practice that complemented Cripps’ made “a lot of sense”.

“[The merger] allows both firms to boost their expertise, doubles the size of our current corporate and commercial practices and provides a better balance to our key practices in real estate, private client and corporate,” added Tyler. “The Vertex Law partners and staff have an entrepreneurial client base and approach, operating in the same or complementary sectors to ours, including technology and healthcare.”

Vertex is a seven-partner firm based in Kings Hill near the centre of Kent. Its year end is 30 September and it is projecting a turnover of around £4m, £3m of which is corporate and commercial with the remainder generated by litigation and real estate.

Turnover dipped slightly during the 2011/12 financial year at Cripps, falling from £18.7m to £18.3m.

In the most recent fiscal period the firm’s turnover remained flat at £18.3m. Net profit at Cripps in 2012/13 stood at £4.95m while average profit per equity partner stood at £242,000. Tyler said neither firm had any debt.

“This is about clients wanting critical mass, particularly larger corporates,” Tyler added. “Neither firm had been looking to merge, this was an idea generated by an informal conversation between one of our partners [real estate partner Mike Scott] and Vertex corporate partner [and former Cripps lawyer] James Beatton. The idea was simply born of putting our two firms together and doing something interesting across Kent.”

The two firms will continue to trade under their own names pending full integration of the two businesses however it is likely that the Vertex will disappear once the merger goes live.

“We’re taking advice from external branding consultants on how best to project the brand of the merged firm,” added Tyler.

The Vertex Law team will remain at Kings Hill with Cripps set to operate from two Kent locations.