Conveyancing giant enters the big leagues as acquisitions pay off

Conveyancing: Group eyes further growth

Simplify, the private equity-owned group that leads the conveyancing market, is now one of the largest legal businesses in the country with a turnover of £139m last year, its accounts have shown.

This puts it in the top 40 law firms in the country based on turnover, and behind only Irwin Mitchell in terms of consumer law firms.

Simplify, owned by private equity firm Palamon Capital Partners, is the largest conveyancing business in the country, having acquired My Home Move in February 2019.

This gave it ownership of Premier Property Lawyers, in addition to the firms it already had – Advantage Property Lawyers, DC Law and JS Law – all of which are top-10 conveyancers in their own right.

Simplify also owns conveyancing panel management and property services firm Move with Us, as well as QualitySolicitors.

The group’s newly published accounts for the year to 31 March 2020 showed the impact of the My Home Move acquisition, as its turnover was £58m in the year before. Staff numbers went up from 573 to 1,464.

Some 87% of the turnover (£121m) came from legal services, with the rest from property services, such as the bulk sale and management of residential property on behalf of new homes developers, mortgage book owners, and executors and administrators of estates.

The group’s adjusted EBITDA was £12.6m and it made an operating loss of £9.1m, more than double the previous year.

It managed 135,000 completions in the year, up from 56,000 in 2018/19. There were 822,000 property sales in England and Wales in the year to 31 March 2020.

Since the year-end, Simplify has grown further, buying top-15 South-East conveyancer Cook Taylor Woodhouse and the trade and assets of Gordon Brown Law Firm in the North-East.

The accounts said that, since the stamp duty holiday was introduced last summer, the group has seen record levels of cases.

Its strategy is to continue both organic growth and acquisitions, alongside the “development and application of technology”.

It added: “Management believe that, by offering high levels of customer service, supported by user-friendly technology, the group can win increased market share and deliver growth to investors.”

Separate accounts for QualitySolicitors show how diminished the one-time poster child of the post-Legal Services Act era of innovation has become, recording turnover of just £829,000, £110,000 lower than the year before, and a profit of £90,000.

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