Another Fletchers deal as regional firms kick off 2024 M&A activity

Scaiff: The new Worcestershire team for Talbots Law

Fletchers Group, the serious injury law firm owned by private equity, has continued its expansion by taking on the once-core motorbike work of Macclesfield firm Thorneycroft.

It is the latest in a series of deals by Fletchers, owned by Sun European Partners, the most recent being its acquisition last October of the 28-strong personal injury division of Leeds firm Emsleys.

Rachel Stow, managing director of Thorneycroft, said she had made the strategic decision to move away from motorbike claims and wanted the partnerships and sponsorships it had in place to be taken over by a firm “with the experience and passion for this type of work”.

She said: “We have had a collaborative working relationship with Fletchers for many years and I see them very much as a trusted partner.

“When I met with Caroline Morris [Fletchers partner and director of serious injury] to discuss whether they may be interested in taking over this area of our business, I soon felt very comfortable that they would continue to provide the high levels of service on which we have prided ourselves. “We are looking forward to this relationship continuing into the future.”

Thorneycroft has been moving away from low-value road traffic claims since the whiplash reforms took effect. Its most recent published accounts, for the year to 31 October 2022, recorded how this had led to a planned 22% reduction in turnover to just under £10m, but at the same time its margin went up and profits were just £100,000 lower at a little over £2m.

As part of the agreement Thorneycroft’s associate director, Mary Lomas, will be moving to Fletchers to maintain the relationships built up within the motorbike community.

Ms Morris said: “I am really pleased to have Mary join our team and to further build our ties and commitment to helping people within the motorbike community.

Thorneycroft is instead focusing on private client work – including conveyancing, family, wills, trusts and probate – as well as employer’s and public liability claims and clinical negligence.

In other merger and acquisition news so far this year, employee-owned Midlands firm Talbots Law has expanded to Worcester by buying Scaiff, which offered a range of high street services. All 16 staff have been retained, with plans to recruit 10 more solicitors and administrative staff over the next year. Overall, Talbots now has around 450 staff.

Talbots chief executive Dave Hodgetts said: “Whilst we’ve got offices in Kidderminster and Bewdley, we’ve never had a high street presence in Worcester. This acquisition gives us an immediate footprint in a city and area rich in potential.”

He said he expected to increase Scaiff’s turnover from £1.2m to £2m by the end of 2024.

Scaiff is Talbot’s third acquisition in the past year, following Sarginsons in Coventry and Wright Solicitors of Dudley and Bewdley, since changing its ownership structure in late 2021 and starting a growth drive.

Talbots’ revenue rose from £22m to £24m in 2023, with a £30m target set for 2025 “This will be achieved by further deals in strategically identified parts of the West Midlands and, longer-term, the possibility of moving into the east of the region,” the firm said.

Regional law firm Howes Percival has acquired Oxford-based specialist commercial, IP & media law firm Maier Blackburn, with partners Cathleen Blackburn and Steven Maier joining to create its first office in the city.

James Howarth, an intellectual property and media partner at Howes Percival, will also be based at the Oxford office.

Mr Maier said the tie-up “provides exactly the relationship we need to take our practice to the next level”.

He explained: “Having built our reputation over the past 12 years for mainly publishing and media work, we are now able to offer our clients a full legal service of the highest quality, to include areas such as corporate, employment and private client work which we have previously been unable to take on.”

Howes Percival chairman Geraint Davies added: “Oxford presents an exciting new opportunity for us. With offices in Milton Keynes, Northampton and Cambridge, we already have clients in the region and relevant experience, for example, working with scientific and academic clients. We will be looking to build a team that can specifically serve the needs of the city and the wider area.”

In Berkshire, Wokingham firm Clifton Ingram has acquired local conveyancing firm Sloan Solicitors. Founder Peter Sloan has joined as a consultant.

Anne Deller, Clifton Ingram’s managing partner, said: “Bringing together years of collective experience and shared values will undoubtedly contribute to the ongoing growth of Clifton Ingram and will further enhance the excellent legal services we have always provided to our clients throughout the Thames Valley, Surrey, and Hampshire.”

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