DUNDEE law firms Blackadders has bolstered its presence in Aberdeen with the takeover of local firm Plenderleath Runcie.

It comes after the business first gained a foothold in Aberdeen in 2014, when it took over Adam Cochran. That deal came after the firm first started to look outside its home market with the 2012 acquisition of Edinburgh outfit McKay Norwell.

Blackadders managing partner Johnston Clark said the latest addition would underpin the firm’s investment in people in addition to “reinforcing our position for continued, strategic growth”.

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“By joining forces with Plenderleath Runcie, Blackadders will have a stronger presence in the North-east and further increase the strength and depth of our client service,” he said.

“We look forward to welcoming the team on board and working with them and enhancing our services to clients.”

All nine members of staff at Plenderleath Runcie will move across to Blackadders along with partners John Plenderleath, Colin Runcie and Neil Robb, who will retain the same position in the enlarged firm. Mr Plenderleath and Mr Runcie founded the business that bears their names in 1998.

Fellow partner John McLoone, who has been with Plenderleath Runcie since it was established and leads the firm’s criminal and civil courts practice, will not be joining Blackadders, which does not advise on criminal defence work.

Mr Plenderleath said the deal made sense from his firm’s point of view because “there is a clear fit between our cultures”.

“We share the same vision as Blackadders’ partners of the highest quality of advice and service to our clients,” he said.

“The merger also allows us to provide a wider range of services to our existing and future clients, who we would normally have to refer on to others if we did not have the relevant expertise or resources in-house.

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“Consolidating our business with Blackadders gives us the ability to provide our clients with the complete legal service.”

Mr Clark added that, with Plenderleath Runcie’s focus on corporate law, commercial property and private client, the acquisition would allow Blackadders to develop its business in the North-east.

Currently the three partners who are based permanently in Blackadders’ Aberdeen office focus on private client, dispute resolution and rural affairs.

Blackadders has been steadily building its practice across the country since making the initial move into Edinburgh in 2012, following up the Adam Cochran acquisition with two further deals in 2014.

The first, which saw it bolt on 227-year old Perth firm Condies, increased its headcount by 28 while the addition of single-partner Edinburgh practice Colin Blaikie & Co swelled its ranks by just one.

Those deals were followed up three years ago by the acquisition of Boyle Shaughnessy, which marked Blackadders’ first move into the Glasgow market.

Mr Clark said soon after the deal went live that the Glasgow move had helped make Blackadders a “destination firm”, with lawyers from across the country actively calling the firm to seek a position.

Insolvency specialist Stephanie Carr joined the firm’s Glasgow base from Harper Macleod soon after it launched in the city.

Following the latest deal, the firm now has 28 partners and 230 members of staff.

In addition to bolting on legal practices, Blackadders has made moves to reduce its focus in recent years, spinning out its wealth management business in 2016.

That move had a slight impact on its results in the following financial year, with turnover falling from £12 million to £11.9m in the 12 months to the end of March 2018.

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The firm’s profits nudged up from £3m to £3.3m in the same period, resulting in individual partners receiving an average profit share of £125, 646 for the year, up from £116,067.

The firm’s top-earning partner, meanwhile, took home £219,858, up from £209,406 the year before.

The firm had £913, 794 of bank debt at the end of the 2017/18 year, just over £400,000 of which was due to be repaid in the current financial year.