DWF records strong first year as listed company

Stock exchange: DWF forecasts £3m in dividend payouts

DWF, the world’s largest listed law firm, told investors today that it expects its 2018/19 revenues to be up by at least 15%.

In a trading update ahead of its annual results next month, DWF said the international practice has delivered the strongest growth in the year to 30 April 2019, with revenue increasing by more than 70%.

Firm-wide revenue for 2017/18 was £236m.

Year-end net debt was in line with expectations at £35m. “This follows management’s successful actions in FY19 to improve cash collections,” the stock exchange announcement said.

“The company is therefore delivering good progress toward its medium term guidance of an expected reduction of between five to 10 days in overall lockup.”

DWF increased its net partner headcount by 19 over the year and said it has “a healthy potential lateral hire pipeline”, while in the coming year it expected “to deliver continued organic growth as well as bolt-on acquisition opportunities”. It expects to pay out £3m in dividends this autumn, as forecast.

Chief executive Andrew Leaitherland said: “This has been another year of strong financial performance across our business, including good organic growth rates in our insurance and commercial services divisions and double-digit growth in connected services and international, providing a firm foundation on which to begin life as a public company.”

DWF’s share price has not moved much since the float in March, closing on Friday at 118.6p, a little below the issue price of 122p.

Meanwhile, fellow listed firm Gordon Dadds Group has changed the brand name of its main legal businesses from Ince Gordon Dadds to simply Ince, to take advantage of the City firm’s reputation. The new strapline is ‘In any case’.

The London-based private client and family practice will now be known Gordon Dadds, while its Bristol practice – based on last year’s acquisition of Metcalfes – will have the name Ince Metcalfes.

Adrian Biles, managing partner of Ince and chief executive of Gordon Dadds Group plc, said: “The group has had a stellar year, expanding both the services we can offer our clients, as well as our international footprint. This name change represents the culmination of everyone’s hard work over the last six months.

“With the behind-the-scenes integration of both firms well under way, establishing separate brands was the next logical step for Ince and Gordon Dadds.

“This acquisition strategy has been hugely successful for the group, growing revenues to over £100 million in the coming year. With these identities in place, both are in an even stronger position to service their distinct markets with their specialist offerings.”

The firm’s share price closed at 159p on Friday, having been as high as 190p and low as 120p during 2019.

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