By Ian McConnell

SCOTTISH law firm Gilson Gray is making its first move into England with the acquisition of a conveyancing specialist, and plans further purchases south of the Border.

Gilson Gray, which was founded in 2014 by chairman and managing partner Glen Gilson and already employs more than 200 people, has agreed to buy Lincoln-based Home Property Lawyers from Knights Group. The price has not been disclosed.

HPL is a residential conveyancing specialist with 65 staff. All of these employees have been retained as part of the deal, including current head of HPL Gary Tyman. Gilson Gray said it plans “to double the headcount as soon as possible”, adding that it has begun recruiting in the Lincoln area and across England. In time, HPL will adopt the Gilson Gray name, the Scottish firm noted.

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Gilson Gray said the deal would “accelerate a rollout” of its “full-service offering” in England.

It declared that the “strategically important expansion” was expected to add around £10 million to £20m in additional revenue, on an annualised basis, to the Gilson Gray group within two years.

Highlighting its appetite for further acquisitions, Gilson Gray revealed it was “pursuing further blue-chip acquisitions” that would consolidate its presence “in key regions of England”.

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It added: “The firm expects to be in a position to disclose its plans later this summer.”

Asked where in England Gilson Gray was looking for further acquisitions, a spokesman replied: “All over the country.”

Mr Gilson said: “We have long committed to delivering ‘best of breed’ legal services in Scotland and the HPL deal extends that ambition into England. We plan for HPL to become the market leader in its area of expertise within the next year.”

He added: “Having a UK-wide footprint, and the ability to work across multiple jurisdictions, is becoming increasingly important for top tier law firms. This acquisition gives us direct access, at scale, to the English market and is a move requested by many of our client base. It allows us to build our full-service offering accordingly and, from a regulatory perspective, it makes sense to keep all our options open."

Mulling the Scottish firm's acquisition of "an English legal services operation", Mr Gilson declared: "We are proud to see Gilson Gray take this step...given that deals of this nature tend to happen in the reverse.”

Gilson Gray, which noted it currently offers 20 service lines catering for individuals and businesses, has around 30 partners. These are a mixture of equity and “fixed-profit” partners.

Mr Tyman said: “I am excited to be joining the Gilson Gray group. It is a thriving entrepreneurial business that gives me great comfort for the future of the HPL staff, our clients and the quality of the product that we can bring to market. The team has a proven track record of delivering high-calibre professional services initiatives and have a superb knowledge of the needs of many of our intermediary partners."