Listed firm Knights has returned to form with a 9% organic growth in revenue to £59.7m in its half-year results.
This marks a significant reverse from its H1 results last year, when the firm conceded that a slew of acquisitions masked a 15% fall in turnover in real terms.
Knight’s buyouts of smaller firms continued apace this year though, with it strengthening in Yorkshire through the £11.5m purchase of Keebles, as well as expanding in the south east with the £5.3m acquisition of Mundays. The firm also entered the north east with the £5.2m takeover of Teeside-based Archers, completed in November. When including this raft of add-ons, revenue jumped by 29% for the period.
Knights attributed the organic upturn to improved client demand, as well as an expansion of its services. Chief executive David Beech (pictured) told Legal Business: ‘M&A was a big success for us in the past year – it’s been a boom period in that regard for most firms. But our entrance into Teeside we feel gives us a unique platform to take advantage of its new Freeport. The practice is modest in size, but big in opportunity.’
The firm saw its underlying profit before tax rise an impressive 26% to £7.6m and also boasted of ‘exceptionally strong cash conversion’ of 105%, up on the 103% reported this time last year.
According to Beech, Knights made 20 ‘senior level hires’ this year (including lawyers but also other professionals such as bankers), bringing with them significant client relationships which likewise boosted organic growth. This remains broadly consistent with the 18 such additions reported last year.
Beech said: ‘If you compare ourselves with previous years, we have recruited really well. Especially as we are in a very competitive period for partner-level recruitment. There’s a push away from the old partnership model, particularly from the next generation of lawyers. This has coincided with us being much surer of who we are as a brand – people read about us and appreciate our unique structure.’
As regards upcoming acquisitions, Beech said: ‘watch this space’. On that front, the firm has recently agreed a £60m revolving credit facility to create ‘significant headroom’, and ‘to continue to scale our business across the UK organically and through selected acquisitions.’