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US expansion drives record revenue at Kennedys as Weightmans’ profits soar 25%

After a year of ambitious international growth, Kennedys has posted record revenue of £286m, up 8% on last year, despite sluggish 1.4% UK growth.

In the last year, the firm added 18 lateral partner hires, and made up 22 new partners globally. In characteristically expansive mode, Kennedys also opened three new offices globally as well as forging three new associations in Turkey, Bolivia and Ecuador.

Traction in the US has underpinned overall performance with a 24% revenue spike in the region to £55m. Its state-side operations, led by managing partner Meg Catalano and Christopher Carroll, now makes up 19% of its international revenue following steady growth since its 2017 merger with US insurance specialist Carroll McNulty & Kull. Most recently, this included the launch of its Delaware office in March 2022.

Of its US expansion, global managing partner Suzanne Liversidge (pictured) said: ‘Because we do a lot of insurance work, as well as commercial work, we are finding lateral partners want to join us as they understand what it is that we do. They are also seeking our culture and global approach, which, coupled with having fantastic leadership and some of the top people in the market, makes the firm attractive to lateral hires. We are delighted that it has been a success story following our merger. It’s something we have really built on and will continue to build on with a very strong team out there.’

The insurance and shipping specialist also reported a 20% hike in revenue in Latin America to £8m, a 16% increase to £27.25m across EMEA and an 11% uptick in its APAC offices to £42.3m. In addition to new offices in Perth and Oman, France is cited as a key jurisdiction of growth.

Despite double-digit growth abroad, Kennedys’ domestic revenue has meant an overall slowdown from last years’ 11% gains. Liversidge chalked this up to the firm’s long-established domestic practice as well as a Covid-induced slowdown in some sectors. ‘We have been in the UK for a very long time, and we have a developed market there. There was an impact from Covid on some of our practice areas, for example, in the motor and aviation space, but we’re now seeing that come back and return to normal. Our international growth understandably is because we are less established in some of those countries and so there’s a lot of opportunity for us to grow.’

The firm’s plans include three office moves scheduled for the next year, including in London where the team will set up base in the City’s iconic Walkie-Talkie building in December. Concluding on the firm’s financials, Liversidge added: ‘It’s a great testament to our people, how hard they work and how they deliver an exceptional service. We continue to see that very strong growth that we’ve seen in previous years and it means that, importantly, we can reinvest in the future now.’

Elsewhere, national firm Weightmans reported an auspicious year with net profits up 25% to £11.3m from £9m last year after awarding £1.5m in bonuses to staff. It also increased its total income by 5% to £103.2m.

Its growth included notable progress in several of its key areas of focus including a 31% revenue hike in built environment work, a 16% increase in public bodies, a 9% uptick in services to owner managed businesses and a 7% increase in services to individuals.

This is the firm’s first results following the announcement of merger negotiations with RadcliffesLeBrasseur in January. The 225-partner combination, which was finalised on 13 June 2022, bolsters the firm’s London operations and strengthens its healthcare sector expertise.

Managing partner of Weightmans, John Schorah, said: ‘The figures show that we have been able to recover from the impact of the Covid pandemic, thanks to the hard work of our people and the support of our clients to whom we are incredibly grateful. We remain ambitious and focused on the future as we continue to innovate, diversify and invest in our people and processes to ensure we are delivering market leading insight and the high standard of service we are known for.’