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‘A fair bit of progress’ – Brodies withstands year-end turbulence to increase revenue and operating profit

Scottish leader Brodies is the latest firm in the LB100 to display its fiscal resilience, growing revenue and operating profit despite a significant Covid-19-induced slowdown during the closing months of 2019/20. 

Revenue at the Scottish independent was up 7% to £82m from £76.9m last year, making it 10 years of consecutive growth at Brodies and a 20% increase over the last two years. Operating profits, meanwhile, underwent a more muted 3% rise to £38.5m while profit per equity partner (PEP) suffered a 4% drop to £680,000 amid headcount increases. ‘Like many firms, we made a fair bit of progress until February,’ managing partner Nick Scott (pictured) told Legal Business. ‘We were up more than 7% up until the last couple months of the year when we were impacted by Covid.’

The 2019/20 performance is something of a slowdown on the previous financial year, when Brodies returned to form with a 12% hike in revenue following a period of more pedestrian growth. This year’s turnover was driven by mandates including acting for Chevron North Sea on the sale of ten Central North Sea assets to Ithaca Energy and acting for Accel-KKR on a series of international acquisitions to the private equity fund’s European portfolio. The firm also increased its cash balances from £21m to £25m in 2019/20. 

Meanwhile, Brodies also grew overall headcount over the financial year by 6%, including 29 additions to its corporate and commercial practice and 33 to its litigation practice. Throughout the Covid-19 lockdown Brodies has continued with new hires, with Scott attributing the firm’s minor slide in PEP to this investment in people 

Despite the pervasive economic uncertainty due to Covid-19 and a potential no-deal Brexit, Scott is sanguine about the firm’s prospects in 2020: ‘Like most firms we made projections throughout this period and we’re currently a bit ahead on cash collected and client activity,’ he added. ‘There is an opportunity there; there is a lot of demand and clients asking for our help with their operational difficulties but also their wider difficulties in their lives. There is an opportunity for lawyers to help clients make sense of it all. There will be many existing clients who will need our help but also new clients entering the market.’