Shareholders of listed remote working firm Keystone will receive a bumper dividend after a year in which profits leapt. Results for the year ending 31 January 2022 published today report that profit before tax increased 56% to £8.4m on revenue up 26.5% to £69.6m.
The company proposed an ordinary dividend of 11.2p (compared with 7.1p in 2021) plus a special dividend of 10p per share. This was made possible, Keystone said, by the ‘strong cash generational and capital light nature of our business model’, together with organic growth of the business.
The firm was one of the first to embrace remote working by lawyers. Its members receive up to 75% of what they bill, and in the past year the number of principals has increased from 369 to 394.
But the number of new applicants to join the firm, offers made by Keystone and candidates accepting offers all fell during the year as lockdowns affected career decisions. The firm said that the relaxation of most restrictions in late July, coupled with the anticipation of the return to office life, led to a ‘prolonged period of slower activity’ as potential candidates deferred making decisions about the future. The market picked up again in October, but the outbreak of the Omicron variant in late November and the reimposition of restrictions caused a further hiatus in activity until the new year.
James Knight, Keystone chief executive, said the company had been perfectly placed to capitalise on clients adjusting to their legal representative not being wedded to a physical office building. ‘As a result of the experience of the last two years, remote working within the legal profession has now been accepted by the mainstream and I believe it will remain a preference for many,’ said Knight.
The company’s central office team, previously based in central London, will continue to work remotely for the foreseeable future, while face-to-face social and networking events for the Keystone lawyers will return this year.
Shares in Keystone Law Group rose 3.9% to 717p today on the news.
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