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Law firm breaks the £50 million turnover mark

LAW firm Brodies has booked a 13.2 per cent rise in turnover to take it beyond the £50 million mark for the first time.

GROWTH PLANS: Managing partner Bill Drummond says he is cautiously optimistic for the future. Picture: Steve Cox
GROWTH PLANS: Managing partner Bill Drummond says he is cautiously optimistic for the future. Picture: Steve Cox

There was a strong performance across a variety of practice areas including real estate, energy, corporate and banking.

As a result turnover grew from £46.01m to £52.1m for the 12 months to April 30 this year with operating profits before partner distribution up 23 per cent from £19.3m to £23.7m.

Managing partner Bill Drummond said: "We regard our increase in turnover as satisfactory against [a] backdrop of improving economic conditions for clients, particularly in the second half of the year."

Among the deals the firm worked on in the year were the sale of Loch Lomond Distillery Company to private equity firm Exponent, Moorfield Group buying the Quartermile development in Edinburgh and the £122.5m takeover of Shetland fish farmer Meridian Salmon by Canadian business Cooke Aquaculture. Brodies also said it had been active in the oil and gas markets for companies such as Chevron.

Mr Drummond, who has headed the firm since 1998, said: "The difference in the course of last year is deals reaching completion and there is a number of them coming through the pipeline so that is pretty satisfying.

"There is a better transactional environment than there has been for quite some time."

The firm said it has no reliance on external debt and increased its cash balance by 57 per cent.

Net funds in the previous financial year were around £6m.

Operating expenses in the 2014 reporting period were said to have grown by 6.2 per cent to £28.4m. Part of that will have come from staff numbers growing by 30 to 564. Across the year partner numbers were said to have increased from 75 to 80 while lawyers and professional advisers went from 326 to 348.

Mr Drummond confirmed the firm remains interested in lateral hires of individuals and teams.

The firm only opened a dedicated Aberdeen office in 2011 but now has more than 50 staff there and announced plans to move to a new site with capacity for more than 100 people. It is also relocating its Glasgow office, which was opened in 2006 and now employs close to 200, next year by taking two floors at the £51m office development at 110 Queen Street.

Mr Drummond said: "We are really trying to accommodate growth. There is also an element of trying to modernise the business to create facilities for the future."

Although the industry has seen widespread consolidation in recent years, Mr Drummond reiterated that Brodies had no interest in pursuing mergers. He said: "In our discussions of the business there is absolutely no need to be taken over by anybody else. It is not something the firm sees as a necessity in order to prosper."

The strong trading seen in the second half of the financial year had continued through with May and June both said to have been busier than in 2013. Mr Drummond said he was cautiously optimistic over prospects for the coming year.

Brodies styles itself as the biggest all-Scotland law firm, as rivals with headquarters in Scotland have operations in London and the rest of the UK.

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