`Exceptional year' for top law firm

Law firm Ward Hadaway has reported double digit growth in turnover and profit per equity partner after its employment team experienced an "exceptional year".

Law firm Ward Hadaway has reported double digit growth in turnover and profit per equity partner after its employment team experienced an "exceptional year".

The Newcastle firm, which has boosted its workforce by 10% to 362 staff, said turnover had grown by 16% to £25m. It said it expected to create another 36 jobs this year.

Meanwhile its profit per equity partner (PEP) - the average profit attributed to each of the firm's equity partners - had also risen by 10% to £405,000 in the year ending April 30 2007.

The latest results mean Ward Hadaway would be ranked the UK's 59th law firm in terms of revenue and 33rd for PEP in league tables compiled by industry magazine The Lawyer.

Ward Hadaway managing partner Jamie Martin said: "These figures represent yet another year of double digit growth for Ward Hadaway. We have now achieved an average annual growth rate of 13% for the last 10 years. Last year saw good growth and performance across most business areas with especially strong performance once again from our property and litigation departments.

"Our employment team had an exceptional year. Our work book has never been stronger as we move into 2007/08 and we are well placed for the delivery of our expansion plans over the next year or two."

During 2006/07 Ward Hadaway worked on the £90m acquisition of the LivingWell chain of health clubs for Darlington-based Bannatynes, owned by TV's Dragon's Den star Duncan Bannatyne.

The quayside firm, which appointed Andrew Hoyle after his shock departure as managing partner of rival Newcastle firm Watson Burton this year, also won a five-year contract for the five Tees Valley Local Authorities.

During the year Ward Hadaway undertook a number of acquisitions for Sage and represented Ultimate Leisure and Tanfield in rights issues. The firm now acts for 21 of the North-East's 40 plcs.

The Journal reported in April how the firm is considering opening new offices in Leeds and Manchester after city rivals Watson Burton and Dickinson Dees have chosen to expand outside Newcastle in recent years.

Mr Hoyle said when he joined Ward Hadaway: "Experience tells me that when a business expands into other areas, it grows not only in those areas, but strengthens its brand and the business at home too - and you can harness a bigger skills pool.

"Our plans are to move with this as quickly as is prudent. It's a question of evaluating the best options - mergers, acquisitions, all sorts of things.Nothing has been ruled in or out."

During the year the firm also won work for the South Yorkshire Health Consortium Panel and the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.

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