Legal Business

Regional player Shakespeare Martineau post-merger turnover drops to £71m


Shakespeare Martineau has revealed its first post-merger turnover figure of £71m, down 6% on the combined figure of £75.6m for legacy Shakespeares which stood at £49m and legacy SGH Martineau which was £26.6m for the financial year 2014/15. The firm’s profit per equity partner came in at £236,000.

Speaking to Legal Business, Shakespeare Martineau chief executive Andy Raynor said that across the whole firm, everyone benefited from the merger due to the increased opportunities and breadth of service, and the drop in turnover was down to post-merger client conflicts.

‘On an annualised basis turnover would be £73m. The difference is always going to be what happens in a merger where there are limited things you can’t do simply because there are those conflicts and where you effectively exclude yourself from the marketplace. But actually in comparison with most mergers that is a really small amount.’

‘The things we have liked most in terms of our performance is the performance of the defined sectors, so rather than picking a service or a particular office, I think were we have seen the most traction is where we have got real expertise and that is in particular in investment funds, in energy, in education.’

Midland firms Shakespeares and SGH Martineau confirmed last June that they would merge to create a firm with a legal force of around 900 people. The merged firm has offices in Birmingham, Leicester, London, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Solihull, Stratford-upon-Avon and Sheffield with one international outpost in Brussels.

In December last year, the acquisitive Shakespeare Martineau merged with London-based commercial law firm, Macrae & Co in the latest of a string of acquisitions.

In August 2012 Shakespeares notably combined with Leicester-based stalwart Harvey Ingram and in 2013 the firm acquired another Leicester practice, Marrons, as well as Coventry-based Newsome Vaughan while obtaining an alternative business licence to cater for insurance clients.

Recently-merged Weightmans revealed last week while revenue was up 7% to £95m, it failed to meet its £100m revenue target despite the combination.

Legal Business

45 jobs at risk as Shakespeare Martineau launches post-merger redundancy round


Newly-merged firm Shakespeare Martineau has launched a redundancy consultation which could see the loss of 45 jobs, mainly within the firm’s business support group but also including fee earners.

As well as cuts across its business support unit, fee earner jobs in the London and Birmingham offices are also at risk following a business review that has been running since Shakespeares and SGH Martineau merged on 15 June.

Commenting on the consultation Jo Thornell, clients and markets director at Shakespeare Martineau, said: ‘Following the merger there has been an ongoing business review. Regrettably, the review has highlighted that in some areas we currently consider that there is a need to reduce the size of some of our teams.’

Consultations with staff are currently underway with the firm looking to make redundancies voluntary where it can.

Shakespeare Martineau currently has a legal force of around 900 people and is expected to generate a combined turnover of £75m. It has offices in Birmingham, Leicester, London, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Solihull, Stratford-upon-Avon and Sheffield with one international outpost in Brussels.

Legal Business

Shakespeares and SGH Martineau confirm merger for 15 June – set to create new £75m national player


Creating Shakespeare Martineau, Midland firms Shakespeares and SGH Martineau have confirmed they will merge on 15 June with Andy Raynor (pictured, right) acting as chief executive.

The new firm is targeting a combined turnover of £75m with a legal force of around 900 people. It will have offices in Birmingham, Leicester, London, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Solihull, Stratford-upon-Avon and Sheffield with one international outpost in Brussels.

Raynor is taking charge at the new firm having only taking up the reigns at Shakespeares in February, succeeding Paul Wilson who had grown revenue from £10m to £50m. Raynor said: ‘I’m delighted with the way this has gone – all our people have worked together brilliantly. Shakespeare Martineau will have a strong commercial personality and the merger demonstrates the commitment of both firms to grow and keep ahead of a rapidly changing and vibrant marketplace.’

The latest in a string of mergers for the acquisitive Shakespeares, which notably combined with Leicester-based stalwart Harvey Ingram in August 2012. In 2013 the firm acquired another Leicester practice, Marrons, as well as Coventry-based Newsome Vaughan while obtaining an alternative business licence to cater for insurance clients.

Emma Shipp, SGH Martineau managing partner (pictured, above left), will lead integration of the two alongside Raynor. She said: ‘Announcing the firm’s merger plans has cemented our shared vision– to be a progressive and distinctive law firm focused on making a difference for our clients.’

Legal Business

Stake your claim – Shakespeares and SGH Martineau confirm talks to create £75m national player as consolidation drive continues


The push among regional players to consolidate continues with news today (2 March) of one of the most notable deals seen outside the City in recent years; Midlands players Shakespeares and SGH Martineau have confirmed they are in talks to merge in a deal that would create a top 50 UK law firm with combined revenues of over £75m.

If successful, the merger would create one of the largest law firms in the Midlands and a practice with a sizeable national network, a staff headcount of 900 and 150 partners. The combined firm would jump up the LB100 table, ahead of fellow Birmingham-outfit Gateleys, which posted turnover of £71.7m for the 2013/14 year.

Staff at both firms were informed of the talks in an internal memo sent out on Friday afternoon (27 February). A joint statement released today said: ‘Each firm excels in distinct sectors with little overlap, making it a neat fit between the two.’

Shakespeares chief executive Andy Raynor and SGH Martineau managing partner Emma Shipp added in the statement: ‘Our firms only contemplate mergers where we believe that there may be significant benefit for our clients, our sectors, our people and our community. We’re in the process of confirming the benefits that a combination may bring and our working relationships to date have been friendly, positive and strong, demonstrating a shared sense of values.’

Shakespeares performed above trend in the 2013/14 financial year, with revenue rising 10% to give the firm a turnover of £50m. In contrast, SGH Martineau saw revenue fall by 4% to £27.5m.

If the talks are successful, this will be the latest in a string of mergers for the acquisitive Shakespeares, which notably combined with Leicester-based stalwart Harvey Ingram on 1 August 2012. In 2013 the firm acquired another Leicester practice, Marrons, as well as Coventry-based Newsome Vaughan while obtaining an alternative business licence (ABS) to cater for its insurance clients. The 103-partner firm has also made little secret of its ambitions to build a substantive City practice through a merger or team hire.

Shakespeares has also recently undergone a change in management, with chief client officer Andy Raynor (pictured, above right) appointed chief executive last month in place of Paul Wilson. Speaking to Legal Business at the time, Raynor said the firm should have the personality of a ‘feisty teenager rather than somebody who is substantially set in their ways’.

He added: ‘We still have ambitions from our regional base to become a national firm, and that means that acquisitions and growth which are part of our DNA will continue when we find appropriate partners.’

For more on the consolidation in the UK regional market, see this analysis piecePretenders to the throne’ (£)

Legal Business

News in brief – February 2015



Last month, Kennedys finally entered the Scottish market with the opening of offices in Glasgow and Edinburgh after talks with Simpson & Marwick fell through at the end of 2013. The firm hired Francis Gill & Co’s founder and director Frank Gill, and Rory Jackson, insurance liability and regulatory partner at McClure Naismith, to co-lead the practice.


Latham & Watkins announced it is set to open a business services office in Manchester during 2015. In the firm’s second centre (after its first in LA), 25 staff will focus on IT and technology support in Europe and there will also be a financial analysis team to provide practice and regional heads with greater budgetary insight.

Legal Business

‘We have something to prove’: Raynor takes the top role at Shakespeares as Wilson departs


Chief client officer Andy Raynor will take the chief executive role at Midlands-based Shakespeares, as current incumbent Paul Wilson departs after almost nine years at the helm.

Wilson (pictured left), who joined Shakespeares in 2006, has overseen seven mergers, and a substantial growth in revenue from £10m to £50m. He leaves to become managing director of Canada’s largest intellectual property and technology law boutique Smart & Bigger, with offices in Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.

Having joined the firm in 2013 originally in a consultancy role before being made chief client officer, Raynor (pictured right) will take up the role at the end of the month. He orignally trained as an accoutant before moving on to taking management roles at private partnerships and public companies.

Speaking to Legal Business, Raynor said there would be a refresh of the firm’s strategy, not necessarily because of Wilson’s departure, but because of the ground the firm has made in the market in recent years:

‘There won’t be a major change because of Paul leaving, but the firm going forward is actually going to do some things differently because of the scale we have reached. We still have ambitions from our regional base to become a national firm, and that means that acquisitions and growth which are part of our DNA will continue when we find appropriate partners. The bit that is changing because of the success that we’ve achieved is that we are starting to reach some very good clients, we are competing with firms that are larger than us or more specialist in a particular market.’

He added: ‘I think this firm absolutely should have the personality of a feisty teenager rather than somebody who is actually substantially set in their ways. We have something to prove at the moment. We will always be that much more aggressive in the marketplace than some of our immediate contemporaries.’

Legal Business

Irwin Mitchell replaced by Shakespeares on National Grid’s UK panel after review

Top 30 UK firm Irwin Mitchell last month lost its place on energy giant National Grid’s legal panel to Shakespeares, following a review by UK general counsel (GC) and company secretary Karen Clayton.

The 700-lawyer firm was appointed for debt recovery services on the FTSE 100 energy company’s panel in 2011, at a time when it cut its roster of firms by 25% to 16.

Legal Business

Consolidation watch: serial acquirer Shakespeares targets City practice through Davenport Lyons merger


It may not have attracted as much attention as DWF this year but Midlands challenger firm Shakespeares shows no sign of easing up on an acquisitive streak that has seen it pick-up a handful of firms since 2007. This time it is looking to establish a credible London presence through a merger with 80-lawyer West End firm Davenport Lyons.

As reported on RollonFriday today (16 December), the two firms are currently in discussions with a view to a tie-up.Both firms reverted to the standard approach of refusing comment on what they described as ‘speculation’ while at the same time not denying that discussions were taking place. Part of a statement released by Davenport Lyons said: ‘Davenport Lyons has always been open to exploring all opportunities including potential merger and acquisition activity. We continue to do so but we cannot comment further on any details of any conversations at this stage.’

Having completed its most significant deal to date when tied the knot with Leicester’s Harvey Ingram in 2012, this year saw the firm bolt on another Leicester firm, Marrons, as well as Coventry-based Newsome Vaughan.

Davenport Lyons, which has seen other firms in West End such as Mishcon de Reya, Forsters and HowardKennedy FSI push ahead since the turn of the credit crisis, has not had the best of fortunes in recent times, seeing its revenues fall 11% from £24.5m to £21.9m in 2012-13, while profit per equity partner (PEP) dropped 12.5 per cent to £197,000.

This is in stark contrast to Shakespeares, which saw revenues rise by 55% to £45.4m in 2012-13 due in large part to its Harvey Ingram merger. Shakespeares also obtained an alternative business licence (ABS) to cater for its insurance clients earlier in the year.

Combined revenues of the two would push Shakespeares close the top 50 UK firms by revenue, at around £67m. Speaking to Legal Business in 2009, Shakespeares’ chief executive Paul Wilson predicted the firm would break the £50m mark by the end of 2015 – this target now looks conservative given the firm’s appetite for mergers to date.

Shakespeares looks set to continue a trend in 2013 that has seen two other burgeoning regional firms establish footholds in the capital by acquiring smaller London outfits. DWF began the year by absorbing City insurance outfit Fishburns, while Sussex-based Thomas Eggar struck a deal with Pritchard Englefield in the Spring.

Legal Business

Redundancy watch: MMS loses 28 staff and Shakespeares launches consultation as Ashurst’s Scottish fallout continues


Redundancy is a word that has been heard rather less over the quieter summer months but yesterday (9 September) Scottish firm Maclay Murray & Spens confirmed it has made a total of 28 staff redundant. Meanwhile, Midlands firm Shakespeares this week confirmed the launch of a consultation over 19 secretarial roles as Ashurst completes the first stage of a redundancy process affecting 350 roles.

Maclays first announced in early June its plans to make up to 30 legal and support staff redundant across its Edinburgh, Glasgow and London offices in a range of practice areas, particularly property and corporate. A statement released by the firm yesterday said: ‘While we regret having to take these steps, they are necessary for the implementation of the firm’s future growth strategy.’

The firm – which has suffered disappointing financial results for the last few years and this year saw revenue drop a further 13% to £40.9m and profit per equity partner down by 22% to £211,000 – began a strategic review of its business in June 2011, which was temporarily put on hold when the firm entered merger talks with legacy firm Bond Pearce (now Bond Dickinson); discussions which never came to fruition.

Speaking earlier to Legal Business, managing partner Chris Smylie said: ‘When we started our strategic review in 2012, it was for us a process of redefinition as well as a drive for focus. With around a third of our revenue coming from our London office, we consider ourselves a UK national cross-border practice not a Scots firm with a London office as we are still regarded in some quarters. It is this reputation that we want to build and focus on. While it has worked well for the likes of Brodies and Burness Paull to maintain a Scotland focused practice, that wouldn’t be the right thing for our clients or our business.’

Meanwhile, Midlands firm Shakespeares, which announced the acquisition of Leicester-based property firm Marrons and Coventry-based Newsome Vaughan last week, is restructuring its secretarial function and launched a redundancy round at the end of last week with 19 out of 100 secretarial roles put at risk across its seven offices.

At the same time, the firm is creating 18 new administrative roles and some of those under review may be re-hired as administrators carrying out paralegal as well as secretarial work.

This latest development follows a redundancy consultation launched in September last year, shortly after the fast-expanding firm’s merger with Harvey Ingram, in which it cut 54 roles.

Elsewhere Ashurst, which made public in June its plan to launch a new Glasgow unit to lower costs in a move which sees 350 London support roles placed at risk of redundancy, has confirmed that it has completed the initial stage of this consultation and that individual consultations are now in process.

The restructuring will see 150 new roles created in Glasgow in the first 12 months, 120 of which will be in the support services function and 30 of which are legal analyst roles. The 350 London staff now undergoing individual consultations will be offered the opportunity to move to the new base.

Results of the final outcome are expected at the end of the year with staff expected to leave or transfer in early 2014.

Berwin Leighton Paisner, DWF, Hill Dickinson and Taylor Wessing have all announced job cuts as a result of consultations which have completed in the last couple of months, while Watson Farley and recently merged Bond Dickinson have both launched consultations of their own, with confirmation of the number of roles cut expected from Watson Farley at the end of this week.

Legal Business

Birmingham’s Shakespeares becomes 72nd ABS of 2013

Number of firms granted licences by SRA hits 2012 levels

The number of firms granted alternative business structure (ABS) status in 2013 has now hit the same level as for the whole of 2012, as Shakespeares became the latest mid-tier outfit to announce it has been granted a licence in mid-May.

Shakespeares was the 72nd firm to obtain a licence in 2013, the same number as obtained a licence in total in 2012 after the Solicitors Regulation Authority began accepting applications on 3 January. After a slow start, the first licences were granted in March 2012, when Co-operative Legal Services, Kent family practice Lawbridge Solicitors and Oxfordshire firm John Welch & Stammers became an ABS. 144 firms have now been granted ABS status.