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Financials 2015/16: A subdued year for Gowling WLG with turnover and PEP both flat

It has been a subdued year for the UK arm of recently-merged Gowling WLG, which has posted essentially flat revenue and profits for the financial year 2015/16.

Revenue is up 2% from £180.4m to £184.7m, while profits per equity partner (PEP) remains static at £383,000. Although the Canadian arm of the firm does not report financials, according to Gowling WLG, the total revenue for both LLPs was £410m.

Construction and engineering which recorded a 23% increase, and IP which posted a 17% increase, were the highest preforming practice areas for the firm, alongside pensions, corporate and real estate.

According to Gowling WLG, the overseas offices also performed well, with the Munich office increasing by 38% while Guangzhou in China delivered a 16% increase. Paris, the firm’s largest overseas office, saw an increase of 3%.

Speaking to Legal Business Gowling WLG’s chief executive David Fennell said that there have been opportunities across a broad range of practice areas as a result of the firm’s combination in February this year.

‘The new mandates and files we’ve opened have actually been across a broad range of practice areas from corporate to private capital to real estate, which we didn’t necessarily expect. IP remains one of those areas which we think is very well placed to benefit from the combination and has won its fair share of what we call ‘combination files’ – files that we wouldn’t have won but for the combination with Gowlings or we won because we’ve jointly pitched. But other areas – we have been surprised by the breadth of work that’s been generated actually.

Fennell (pictured) added: ‘The start of the 2015/16 year was reasonably slow. It was the run up and the period immediately after the general election were quieter, people put transactions on hold in that period. So our first half last year was slower than we hoped and the second half was much stronger and that carried into the first quarter. We are pleased with that.’

Last week Gowling WLG confirmed it would delay its 2016 review for all staff excluding fixed share and equity partners until the autumn as a direct result of the Brexit vote. However the firm added that bonus payments, for 2015/16 for those eligible were paid as usual in the July payroll and summer promotions had gone ahead as planned.

Fennell added: ‘Like a lot of firms our annual pay review is effective the 1 of July, and it still will be. But given the significance of Brexit and the uncertainty and pandemonium in stock markets and the fall of the value of the pound immediately after that result it was prudent to pause and take stock and see how the markets and the economy reacted to Brexit. So that’s what we’ve done.’