National Accident Helpline has today unveiled its move into the conveyancing market by spending £4.3m to buy a lead generation business specialising in the sector.
Fitzalan Partners owns In-Deed – previously owned by the failed alternative business structure of the same name – Fridaysmove, Homeward Legal and Surveyor Local.
Fitzalan Partners was established in 2011. Since then its network has completed the conveyancing for nearly 55,000 home buyers and sellers.
The price is made up of made up of an initial £3m in cash, with further cash of up to £1.3m prior to 31 December 2015 dependent on certain conditions being met.
Fitzalan reported profits before tax of £700,000 for the year to 31 July 2014. In a statement to the stock exchange, the AIM-listed NAH said: “The acquisition will be funded from existing cash resources and is expected to be immediately earnings enhancing.”
NAH said Fitzalan uses “innovative proprietary technology platforms to target home buyers and sellers in England and Wales and offers lead generation services to panel law firms and surveyors in the conveyancing sector”.
It continued: “As with the personal injury market, law firms find it difficult to cost-effectively generate their own leads. Unlike other mainstream online lead generators, Fitzalan carries out the full sales cycle on behalf of its panel law firms and provides these firms with confirmed instructions rather than partially qualified leads.”
The statement said the “clear strategic rationale for the acquisition” included:
- Providing access to a new market within consumer legal services that broadens NAH’s portfolio;
- Fitzalan is a business model that the group can add real value to as it is an early stage NAH model for property law and supporting services
- Core skill sets of digital marketing, consumer contact centre, panel management and product development are common to both businesses
- The conveyancing market is highly fragmented and there exists significant potential to develop new sources of business, after investment, that would be expected to deliver bottom line growth in future years.
NAH chief executive Russell Atkinson said: “As we highlighted at the time of our IPO, strategic acquisitions are a key part of our growth strategy and we are delighted with the acquisition of Fitzalan.
“The acquisition offers NAH the opportunity to extend its reach into the conveyancing market and utilise its competitive advantage and skill set from the PI market to take advantage of the significant growth opportunities already identified.
“Fitzalan has a strong operating model and is complementary to the core NAH model. We look forward to the contribution it will make to the wider Group and welcoming the team to NAHL.”