Browne Jacobson smashes £50m barrier with 11.5 per cent turnover rise

Browne Jacobson has announced an 11.5 per cent increase in turnover for the 2013/14 financial year, with revenues rising from £45m to £50.2m.

It is the fourth year in succession the firm has achieved record results, and the second time in three years with double-digit growth.

The firm said growth had come across the board, with its Manchester office doubling in size and Exeter growing by over 50 per cent in its first full year at the firm (21 August 2012). Work levels increased by 9.8 per cent in Birmingham, 9.4 per cent in London and 7.4 per cent in Nottingham.

Managing partner Iain Blatherwick said profitability was also up.

Browne Jacobson has also undertaken a capital call to meet HM Revenue & Customs’ (HMRC’s) new tax requirements for LLPs, affecting salaried members (17 December 2013). The firm introduced around £1.9m through the process, primarily through its junior equity and middle-equity partnership tiers putting in more capital.

Blatherwick said the firm’s most junior level of partnership, salaried partners, were unaffected by the move as the firm had always considered them employees and their status under the new rules remained unchanged. However the firm’s 44 junior equity partners had previously not had enough capital in the business to qualify as self-employed under HMRC’s rules.

The middle-equity partners were not affected by the rules, but also contributed more capital under a wider shakeup of Browne Jacobson’s profit-sharing arrangements.

According to Blatherwick, the firm had been considering revamping its partnership to give partners a greater sense of ownership, but the HMRC changes accelerated the process. Partners were consulted on the move earlier this year.

Separately, Browne Jacobson reduced its overall debt levels by £2.9m during the course of the past year. Blatherwick said this was through a mixture of reducing borrowings and managing working capital better.

The firm won places on a number of panels, particularly in the public sector, last year. These included a place on the joint panel for five West Yorkshire councils (11 June 2013), the NHS Litigation Authority (3 June 2013), Hiscox’s claims panel (31 October 2013) and supermarket chain Morrisons (18 October 2013). Since the year-end, Browne Jacobson has also been appointed to panels for the Homes & Communities Agency (8 May 2014) and the NHS Property Services Panel (15 May 2014).

Lateral hires and promotions brought partner numbers to 99, with the firm’s overall headcount rising by 4 per cent.

Blatherwick said the growth could be attributed to investments made in 2012/13, including the launch of Exeter and Manchester, winning new clients and retaining existing clients.

“We’re also now really starting to see opportunities arising from our mix of practice areas as the boundaries between the public and private sector shift,” Blatherwick added.