National firm Irwin Mitchell has vowed to continue growing in 2016 but appears to have backed away from plans to float on the stock exchange.
The Irwin Mitchell Holdings Limited group’s accounts show profit before tax increased 6% in 2014/15 to £18.1m.
Group revenues also increased by 4% to £211m for the year, which ended on 30 April 2015.
The company has been strongly linked with a listing on the stock market for several years, and it is understood this is still an option being considered for the future.
But the annual report makes no mention of an IPO despite outlining plans to expand further this year.
‘The directors plan to grow all areas of the business during FY16 through a combination of further recruitment, investment in the Irwin Mitchell brand, organic growth and further M&A activity as opportunities allow.’
Despite it being an option since the Legal Services Act was enacted, Gateley is the only existing UK law firm to have opted to float on the stock exchange. The likes of Simpson Millar and NewLaw have joined listed groups as subsidiaries, while Slater and Gordon is listed on the Australian stock market.
During 2014/15, Irwin Mitchell agreed with insurer esure to establish a subsidiary business, IMe Law, and extended its interests with the acquisition of private wealth specialist Berkeley Law Limited in a deal worth around £8m. Since April 2015, the company has also acquired the commercial debt recovery operations of P&A Receivables Services and top-100 firm Thomas Eggar.
The accounts outline that income increases reflected growth in the complex personal injury and business legal services divisions, and were in part offset by a further decline in volume PI revenues.
In order to ensure sufficient funds for ongoing operations and future developments, the group negotiated a four-year borrowing arrangement running until March 2018 comprising a £45m revolving credit facility and a £15m overdraft.
By April 2015, the group had debts totalling £227m (up from £188m in April 2014) and owed £167m to creditors within one year (up from £143m in 2014).
Staff numbers increased from 1,256 to 1,351. Directors’ remuneration fell from £3.23m to £2.84m, with the highest-paid director seeing their remuneration fall from £1.2m to £849,000.