Listed legal services and credit hire business Anexo Group took advantage of competitors leaving the personal injury market or putting staff on furlough last year, it told investors yesterday.
The group, which remained fully operational during the Covid disruption, used the opportunity to hire lawyers and expand its network of introducer garages.
Announcing its results for 2020, the group – which owns Liverpool-based law firm Bond Turner – said revenue increased 11% to £87m, with adjusted profit before tax falling 30% to £16m “in line with market expectations”.
It said this reflected £6.5m on investment in staff and associated IT costs, and acquiring cases for the Volkswagen emissions litigation – it now has more than 14,000 cases on its books.
Bond Turner was focused on “cash collections and corresponding investment in staff to drive increased case settlements”, executive chairman Alan Sellers, a barrister, wrote in his report to shareholders.
“This strategy, coupled with our conservative recognition policies, has had a significant impact on financial performance.”
Legal revenues increased by 15% to £35m. “The continued growth of the Bolton office, which opened in December 2018, and the opening of the Leeds office scheduled for the beginning of 2021 have provided considerable opportunities for recruitment,” Mr Sellers recorded.
“During the pandemic, the group has seen a number of competitors withdrawing from the market and embarking on a run-off strategy; in addition, a number of high-quality staff at competitor firms were placed on furlough.
“Taking advantage of these recruitment opportunities means that staff numbers have risen at all levels.”
Staff numbers at Bond Turner rose 17% over the year to 518, of whom 145 were senior fee-earners, an increase of 18 on 2019.
Meanwhile, the credit hire division, called EDGE, saw a number of competitors withdrawing from the market “and the group took this opportunity to expand its network of introducer garages”.
Mr Sellers said the group was “well positioned for robust growth in 2021 and beyond”.
He added: “I am delighted to report that the group has achieved the milestone of net cash generation throughout the financial year.
“Both our business divisions have remained fully operational throughout the 2020 and into 2021 and the group has demonstrated considerable resilience.
“Ongoing investment into our advocacy practice is forming a solid foundation for our strategy of building this into a major contributor to future revenues.”
Last year, Mr Sellers and solicitor and Bond Turner managing director Samantha Moss, sold £46m worth of shares to private equity firm DBAY Advisors.
Anexo’s shares rose slightly yesterday to 132.5p, little changed since the turn of the year.