Two of the biggest firms operating solely in the south-east have joined forces to create a practice with a combined headcount of nearly 500.

Partners at full service firms Moore Blatch and Barlow Robbins unanimously approved the merged practice, which will begin trading as Moore Barlow from 1 May.

The firms say the deal will create a ‘regional powerhouse with a significant geographic footprint across the south east’. The new entity will have 70 partners and 272 lawyers across six offices, with a combined turnover of almost £40m.

Ed Whittington, managing partner of Moore Blatch, said: ‘There is a unique opportunity to bring together the absolute best of our two organisations – both outstanding firms with deep regional roots, strong areas of specialism, and dedicated teams of exceptional talent.

‘By combining our respective and highly complementary areas of expertise within a culture of excellence and support, we will be one of very few firms with the breadth, depth and resources to meet all the needs of our core client groups.’

The firm combined will have offices in Southampton, Guildford, Woking and Lymington, as well as two locations in London (Richmond and the City). It will also be the sole UK legal adviser within Ecovis, an international network of more than 7,500 lawyers, accountants and consultants with capability around the globe.

Barlow Robbins LLP posted turnover of £13m and operating profit of £2.8m for 2018/19. Both had risen year-on-year. According to its 2018/19 annual results, Moore Blatch LLP recorded £25m turnover and £5.5m operating profit, the latter having risen 44% on the previous year.