Profits dip at Norton Rose but turnover edges up

Norton Rose’s average profit per equity partner (PEP) figure fell by 17 per cent in the 2008-09 financial year, due in part to the firm’s decision not to make any job cuts.

The firm managed to increase its turnover by six per cent to £314m but PEP fell to £517,000 from a high of £625,000 last year.

Firm chief executive Peter Martyr (pictured) said he had known that profitability would “take a bit of a thump” after the firm decided not to cut staff numbers, instead opting to put employees on four-day weeks and paid sabbaticals.

He added: “We decided we would take some pain on profits. It’s only fair if we’re asking people to do flexible working.”

Martyr said that the firm’s international offices had bolstered revenues, with Singapore performing particularly well and Germany and Holland holding up better that expected.

The firm’s banking and corporate practices have had a strong year, boosted by the instruction on HSBC’s £12.5bn rights issue.

Martyr said that London had increased its revenue compared to last year.

The firm’s growth has slowed markedly compared to last year, however, when turnover rose 27 per cent to £297m (25 September 2008).

The Norton Rose flexible working scheme, which will be in force throughout the 2009-10 financial year, allows the firm to ask staff to work four days a week on 85 per cent of base salary, or take a sabbatical of four to 12 weeks at 30 per cent of base salary.

Other top 20 firms to release financial results include CMS Cameron McKenna, which saw turnover rise slightly from £235.5m to £240m and PEP fall 15 per cent to £554,000 (22 May 2009), and Lovells, which achieved 11 per cent revenue growth while PEP dropped 11 per cent to £585,000 (27 May 2009).