THE impact of Dundee law firm Thorntons’ recent acquisition spree is starting to be felt, with the firm seeing an uplift in both its top and bottom lines in the last financial year.

In the 12 months to May 2018 turnover at the firm rose by 13 per cent, from £23.9 million to £27m, while partner profits rose by 14%, from £5.1m to £5.8m.

According to managing partner Craig Nicol, the results represent the firm’s “commitment to long-term investment with a clear strategy for growth across the business”.

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That strategy began in September 2014, when Thorntons acquired Cupar’s Steel Eldridge Stewart, following that up with the acquisition of St Andrews-based Murray Donald in November of that year, Montrose firm Watts in 2015 and Kirkcaldy’s Clarkson Hamilton in June 2016.

Half-way through the 2017/18 financial year it made its biggest acquisition to date, buying troubled Fife firm Pagan Osborne out of pre-packaged administration.

Ten of Pagan Osborne’s 11 partners transferred to Thorntons along with 113 staff, although with the former firm’s offices in Edinburgh, Cupar and St Andrews closed down, around 60 staff members were made redundant. Pagan Osborne chief executive Alistair Morris did not form part of the deal and subsequently began a new role as a consultant at Kirkcaldy firm Andrew K Price.

The bulk of the exceptional costs associated with the Pagan Osborne deal were booked in the financial year under review, with Thorntons chairman Colin Graham noting in the firm’s LLP accounts, which were filed at Companies House this week, that they had been “largely recovered” by the end of the period.

“This acquisition has added significantly to our private client offering in both Fife and Edinburgh,” he said.

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“We are focusing on our services to our existing and new clients acquired through the acquisition and have made significant progress in embedding both new clients and our new colleagues into our enlarged business.”

Mr Nicol added: “Pagan Osborne was certainly a significant acquisition and we have made considerable headway in the transition for colleagues and clients into our business.”

In turnover terms the firm is now 67% bigger than it was when its expansionist strategy began, while partner profits have risen by 45%: at the end of the 2013/14 financial year the firm turned over £16.3m and made a profit of £4m.

However, with partner numbers rising by 69% over the same period this has not translated to an increase in individual profit shares, with the 32 partners working at the firm in 2013/14 receiving an average profit share of £125,000 while the 54 partners in 2017/18 took home an average of £107,407.

Similarly, while the top-earning partner in 2013/14 received a profit share of just over £175,000, in 2017/18 the highest-paid member received £173,620.

Looking ahead, Mr Nicol said that the firm “remains strong amid continued uncertainty in some of our markets”, adding that while remaining “mindful of Brexit repercussions” the firm is confident it can sustain its growth.

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Elsewhere, personal injury firm Digby Brown reported an 8% rise in turnover and 30% rise in profits for the year to March 2018, while Glasgow's BTO Solicitors saw both turnover and profitability fall in the same period.

Digby Brown, whose figures regularly fluctuate due to it only receiving payment when often long-running cases settle, posted turnover for the year of £31.1m and profits of £10.8m, with its highest-paid partner receiving a profit share of £1.3m, up from £971,431 the previous year.

BTO, meanwhile, saw turnover fall from £18.9m to £18.4m while partner profits decreased from £7.8m to £6.4m, with the largest profit share falling from £245,237 to £202,000. The firm said its bottom line had taken a hit as a “direct consequence” of the firm transitioning onto a new practice management system.