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‘A good little business’: Weightmans completes Leeds merger to create £100m firm

Legal Business 100 firm Weightmans has completed its merger with local Leeds firm Ford & Warren, creating a combined entity with revenues of around £100m and headcount of over 1,400.

The deal, which was completed on Friday (3 July) will add 110 staff to the firm nationally, including 12 partners – bringing the total number of partners to 187. The merger will also provide Weightmans with a new base in Leeds, giving the firm a presence in nine UK locations.

Speaking to Legal Business, Weightmans managing partner John Schorah said there were synergies between the two firms in terms of clients and complimentary sectors such as insurance, retail and leisure and transport.

‘They have a licensing team that we don’t have, and there are some things that we are able to sell here to their clients that they don’t have. And of course it was an opportunity to get into the Leeds market. It is a region we think our clients would like to see us in and we think we can do more for our clients being based there. And it was a good little business.’

The integration period between the two firms is already underway, with some Weightmans partners, including the head of the firm’s national regulatory services unit, David Lewis, relocating to Leeds. Lewis, who is also currently regional office head in Liverpool, will become regional office head of the new Leeds offering.

In May Weightmans, which also has offices in Birmingham, Glasgow and Liverpool, announced a modest revenue increase of 2.5% for the 2014/15 financial year to £89.2m from £87m. The figure demonstrates a slowing pace of growth compared to last year’s results when the firm enjoyed revenue growth of 6.6% across all business lines, with many practice areas exceeding annual targets. Weightmans took the opportunity that year to reduce its debt from £9.6m to £3.5m, marking a while net profit came in at £24.1m.

Ford & Warren, as it is not an LLP, does not publish its revenue figures, but its last reported turnover was in the region of £10m two years ago.