PE firm makes second big acquisition in bid to build national practice

Liddle: Fantastic opportunity

Private equity firm Blixt Group has made the second major acquisition of its consolidation play in the shape of Lancashire law firm Farleys Solicitors, a £12m business now eyeing deals of its own.

Blixt entered the legal market is summer 2021 by acquiring Essex law firm Fisher Jones Greenwood (FJG), with the aim of creating a £100m group over the next four to five years concentrating on services to private clients and small and medium-sized corporates.

It has set up a company called Lawfront for its legal business. Its chief executive is Neil Lloyd, who recently joined from a consolidator in the dentist market and was previously chief executive of logistics business Yodel.

Farleys has six offices in the North-West – two in Blackburn, as well as Manchester, Preston, Burnley and Accrington. It has a broad private client and commercial practice and there were 15 partners among 150 staff before the acquisition.

All are staying and the firm will continue to operate under its existing brand, as was the case with FJG.

Farleys’ most recent accounts, for the year to 31 March 2022, show income up 17% to £12.2m, with profits of £6.2m to share between the partners. The highest-paid member received £464,004 in 2021/22, 24% more than in the prior year.

Managing partner Ian Liddle said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for Farleys and will unlock many opportunities for our already successful team to grow and develop.

“Our ethos remains the same – legal expertise with a down-to-earth approach, and we have already invested in a number of key appointments and practice areas over recent months which is indicative of our commitment to increasing and strengthening our existing teams.

“With the support of Lawfront, we will continue to build upon and enhance the service that we offer to our clients, whilst also looking at opportunities to grow by way of acquisition.”

Blixt has already shown its willingness to support its firms in this way – earlier this year, FJG acquired Essex and Suffolk firm Steed & Steed.

At the time, FJG managing partner Paula Cameron explained that Blixt aimed to create six or seven more regional “hubs” across England and Wales.

Lawfront pledged to support the firms it bought “through investing capital and resources in central services, systems and, most importantly, people and culture”.

Mr Lloyd said: “Farleys are an excellent fit for Lawfront in our strategy of backing high-quality law firms; regional leaders with strong local brands who invest in developing great places to work for colleagues.

“It is another important step in delivering our vision to be a leading national law firm.”

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