Leading legal firm Muckle LLP has reported a 5.2% lift in turnover to £11.5m in a year which saw growth in all of its service lines.
The Newcastle-based firm, which acts for a wide variety of public and private companies, universities, public sector bodies and other organisations, saw pre-tax profits drop to £3.79m for the year to March 31, 2013, from the £4.21m posted for the previous 12 months, but directors said this is the third successive year which has seen a lift in sales, and profitability over the three years was up on average 19%.
Managing partner Stephen McNicol said: “Rather than take a snapshot in time it’s better to look at medium or long-term figures and overall, looking at our three-year trend, turnover has gone up an average of 13% and profitability has risen 19% over that time period.
“Profitability fluctuates and the reason for the profitability numbers is that we continue to feel that it’s the right thing to invest, so we have made fairly aggressive investment in a new IT infrastructure and we have also invested in our people.
“It’s important to look after your people; the happier they feel the more they engage with their work.”
Over the course of the year headcount at the business, excluding the 27 members, increased to an average of 120 from 112.
As in previous years, the firm also donated 1% from its annual profits to its charitable fund, which then provides grants to local charities and voluntary projects
McNicol said: “That happens irrespective of our financial performance – it’s a commitment the business has made and stands by resolutely, that it gives to the fund, and we also have a chosen charity for the year. Last year it was Heel & Toe and this year it is the NSPCC North East.
“It’s not all about money either. Everyone is entitled to take two days off additional holidays to do fundraising or community-based work, and we have had people painting buildings and landscaping.”
The report accompanying the annual accounts for the firm, added: “The year was not without its challenges. We, like many other law firms, experienced increases in our operating costs. However, we have a very robust business model which has enabled us to deal well with the financial and regulatory challenges facing many in the sector.”
The profit for the financial year – £3,793,634 – is shared among the 27 members of the LLP and members are required to make their own provision for pensions from their profit shares. The share profit given to the member with the largest entitlement was £295,863 – down from the previous year’s share of £390,708.