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New consolidator enters market with plans to build £100m firm

FJG: The era of the consolidator

A new consolidator entered the legal market yesterday after a private equity company bought an Essex law firm with the aim of creating a £100m group over the next four to five years.

Blixt Group has taken a majority share in 23-partner Essex practice Fisher Jones Greenwood (FJG), although the eight equity partners have all retained small stakes and will remain with the firm.

Blixt said its vision was to build a leading national law firm, concentrating on private client services and services to small and medium-sized corporates.

An alternative business structure since 2013, FJG is a £7.3m turnover firm based in Colchester, with four other offices in Essex and one in London. It has 158 staff and covers pretty much the full range of personal and business law services.

Senior partner Tony Fisher is becoming chief executive officer and managing partner Paula Cameron chief operations officer.

Blixt is described as a “growth-oriented pan-European private equity firm” headquartered in London with access to over €250m of committed institutional investor funding.

Ms Cameron told Legal Futures that FJG had gone out to market with an eye to succession – four of the equity partners are in their sixties – and had received a significant amount of interest from both investors and other law firms.

Blixt had been looking for a law firm to buy for a year, she said, and was the best partner “we could have imagined”. She continued: “The intention is to grow and grow very quickly.”

They are looking at acquisitions in an area of law and any part of the country with the goal of creating a national firm with a turnover of at least £100m in four to five years.

This was, Ms Cameron agreed, the “era of the consolidator”, with firms that have “limped through Covid” or have succession problems of their own looking for options.

The deal is not a simple pay-out for equity partners – all have agreed to stay with the business for at least three or four years – while Ms Cameron said Blixt was in for the long haul too, having made a 10-year commitment with an option for a further five.

She described Blixt as a “hands-off” investor. “They’ve been looking for a firm for a long time. They needed the right people – it’s not us just building FJG but us building a brand for them. They wanted our values and culture to run through that national organisation.”

Mr Fisher added: “This is a fantastic opportunity for the firm to continue its growth path and provide opportunities to other firms to be part of a national network.

“We will stick with our key values of integrity, respect and expertise, and with the support of Blixt we want to continue to be known as a great place to work.”

Blixt chief executive Carl Harring said: “We were immediately impressed by the quality of the firm and its commitment to innovation and progress alongside excellent client service.

“We are looking forward to help build a strong national group supported by best-in-class technology and process flow.”