Leading firm eyes rapid growth by building “house of brands”

Walker-Smith: Offering the best of both worlds

Midlands-based law firm Shakespeare Martineau has outlined a strategy to attract mergers, acquisitions and hires to a “house of brands” and double in size by 2023.

It is offering firms the chance have the benefits of a larger organisation while retaining their brands.

Shakespeares has 850 staff offering both corporate and private client services out of six midlands offices as well as London, Sheffield and Glasgow.

In the year to 30 April, it recorded a turnover of £71m and a profit of £18m. Both were reductions on the previous year as a result of a restructuring in 2019 and the impact of Covid-19.

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

The firm said the immediate priority was to grow those brands as well as welcoming new brands under a new group holding LLP, across both legal and complementary services.

“What we’re trying to achieve, for the brands we have and those likeminded people who join us, is the best of both worlds,” said chief executive Sarah Walker-Smith.

“So often in our industry large and aggressive businesses will acquire firms only to destroy the very heart of that brand and the reason they have loyal clients – we want to reverse that.

“What we’re looking for is teams, individuals and brands that are similar to our current offering to enhance existing teams, as well as complementary locations, service offerings, routes to market, or stand-out brands – with a loyal client base – to join our professional services group.”

They would benefit from economies of scale, bigger buying power, higher profile and access to a wider client base, she went on, “while maintaining their own personality, identity and what makes them special”.

Ms Walker-Smith predicted that Shakespeares would have “heavyweight brands” across the major UK regions.

“The benefit of a portfolio, ‘house of brands’, approach helps mitigate risk for those businesses, brands, and people that join us; having a wider sector and service offering means we’ll be in a better position to weather future economic shifts and enable individual brands to focus on what they do best without limiting the broader group’s growth trajectory.”

She said the firm was already in “well-developed discussions” with several individuals and brands.

“We feel now is the right time for change. We want to create something sustainable for the benefit of all of us, and that is fit for the future.

“A group of strong, complementary brands each sharing a common purpose and working collaboratively to make something bigger, better and unique, while maintaining and celebrating individuality, and remaining at the heart of our communities.”

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