‘House of brands’ group makes first non-legal acquisition

Walker-Smith: We believe good business can be both purposeful and profitable

Legal and professional services group Ampa – which owns leading midlands law firm Shakespeare Martineau – has made its first non-legal services provider acquisition since unveiling its innovative ‘house of brands’ strategy last year.

The purchase of global cyber security firm CSS Assure is projected to add more than £7m to the group’s turnover over the next three years. It will continue to trade under its existing brand.

“All CSS Assure team members will remain with the company, with no redundancies planned, and a significant recruitment and growth plan is in place,” a statement said.

Shakespeare Martineau renamed its holding LLP as Ampa in June, having last year outlined a strategy to attract mergers, acquisitions and hires to a ‘house of brands’, double in size by 2023 and hit turnover of at least £200m by 2025.

It already has three other brands: debt and loss recovery business Corclaim, personal injury and clinical negligence specialist firm Lime, and town planning consultancy Marrons Planning.

CSS co-founders Mike Wills and Charlotte Riley will become members of the Ampa LLP, subject to Solicitors Regulation Authority approval.

Sarah Walker-Smith, chief executive of Ampa, said: “Cyber-security is a growing sector, with hacking, attacks and data breaches causing significant issues for businesses at every stage of their lifecycle, as well as people and their families.

“CSS Assure will support our legal experts with technical knowledge to protect our customers and unlock their potential… We’re in this together and in it for the long term, with exciting – but realistic – projections for growth.”

Mr Wills added: “Our services complement Ampa, and our impressive joint client base and exciting innovation roadmap provide a strong catalyst for growth.

Separately, Ampa has announced its intention to become a B Corporation, a status currently held by only three UK law firms.

B Corporations, with B standing for ‘Benefit’, are for-profit businesses that are legally required to consider the impact of business decisions on their people, customers, suppliers, communities and the environment, ensuring a balance between purpose, people and profit.

The not-for-profit B Lab organisation began in the USA, and now has over 4,000 members in 77 countries, including 500 companies in the UK.

Bates Wells was the first UK law firm to become a B Corp, in 2015, followed last year by Radiant Law and more recently Mishcon de Reya.

Ampa has also made 30 responsible business pledges, including a commitment to increasing female representation within the LLP members by five percentage points to 38% and racial diversity by two points to 10%.

The group is looking to be net zero by 2025 and carbon negative by 2030, with all registered office hubs using 100% renewable energy, as well as increasing the use of sustainably sourced or recycled office supplies and furniture.

A pro bono programme is committing to 10,000 volunteering hours and supporting a minimum of 350 young people through mentoring, employability or virtual insights programmes over the next 12 months.

Ms Walker-Smith said: “Achieving B-Corp status is something that’s really important to us; it’s not a box-tick exercise, but a reflection of how we do business by enshrining our people, client and community commitments at our core.

“We believe good business can be both purposeful and profitable and we want our clients to be confident that we not only do we provide excellent service and advice, but that we do it responsibly.”

Martin Bunch, managing partner of Bates Wells, will be talking about the firm’s B-Corp status in a session entitled ‘Doing business, doing good’ at the Legal Futures Innovation Conference on 16 November.

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