Exclusive: Lawfront eyes £150m group as ambitions grow

Lloyd: Investing in local brands

Private equity-backed Lawfront – which earlier this month made its fourth major acquisition – is now looking to build a group turning over £150m, Legal Futures can reveal.

The success of the venture to date has prompted its funder, Blixt Group, to raise the ambitions of the group, which was initially to create a business worth £100m.

The deal for Manchester-headquartered Slater Heelis followed Essex practice Fisher Jones Greenwood – the first acquisition in August 2021 – Farleys in Lancashire and East Midland firm Nelsons as the major planks of Lawfront’s group.

Lawfront has also backed two small tuck-in acquisitions for Nelsons and one each for Fisher Jones and Farleys.

Neil Lloyd, chief executive of Lawfront, told Legal Futures that the group was already up to a turnover of £70m, having also recorded growth of 5.6% last year. At Blixt’s instigation, “the ambition has got bigger – now our eyes are on a £150m turnover and getting into the top 40 UK firms”.

The strategy is to buy another three or four ‘regional leaders’ over the next couple of years and then invest in their growth – the West Midlands, South, South-West and North-East are the areas to fill. He is also interested in moving into Wales.

Under the model, the firms are general legal practices that retain their brands but Lawfront has central operations servicing all of them.

The long-term aim is to have 60% of turnover coming from consumer legal services and 40% from advice to SMEs; no one practice area will account for more than 20% of turnover.

Mr Lloyd said “the acceptance [in the acquisition market] of what we’re doing has been quicker than I anticipated”.

He reported three “consistent themes” in his conversations with potential targets: succession, legacy and preservation of brand, and “fear of the ongoing investment cost to remain competitive, particularly in the face of replacing core systems and investment in AI”.

Firms were approaching Lawfront because it was committed to preserving local brands and investing in their management teams, and had the capital to finance their growth plans, he said.

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