Ward Hadaway sees profit plummet despite solid turnover rise

North East firm Ward Hadaway has reported a 23 per cent drop in net profit for the 2013/14 financial year, although turnover rose by 2.2 per cent to £33.7m.

The Newcastle-headquartered firm said profit had fallen to £2.7m from £3.5m last year. Average profit per equity partner (PEP) also fell by 23 per cent, from £322,000 to £249,000.

According to figures provided to The Lawyer, Ward Hadaway’s top of equity last year, £250,000, was 13 per cent lower than the previous year’s bottom of equity.

There was no change in the size of Ward Hadaway’s 11-strong equity partnership, although the firm added four non-equity partners last year.

The fall in profit is set against continued turnover growth. Since 2009/10 turnover has risen by 22 per cent, from £27.6m.

The firm would not comment on the profit fall, but it has increased its total headcount substantially. Total staff numbers rising from 389 in 2012/13 to 420 in 2013/14. Recruitment included seven partner lateral hires, including corporate partner Paul Ellaby from Hill Dickinson and Bond Dickinson commercial and IT specialist Phil Tompkins.

The firm also increased its office space last year, adding almost 10,000 sq ft in total and doubling the size of its Manchester offices. The cost of leasing its 103,000 sq ft increased from £2.96m to £3.38m.

Almost half of the firm’s turnover came from litigation and personal injury work, bringing in £16m of the total. Ward Hadaway’s property team grew its income by almost 16 per cent over the course of the year, while the commercial team saw revenue grow by over 17 per cent.