A private equity firm that targets businesses in the north has invested £15m in a Cheshire industrial disease firm.

NorthEdge Capital today confirmed its first foray into the legal services market with the investment in Wilmslow-based Roberts Jackson.

The Cheshire firm was founded five years ago and has grown its headcount from two to more than 200 in that time. It was granted an alternative business structure licence by the SRA in May and has now earmarked further growth and development of the practice.

Grant Berry, managing partner at NorthEdge Capital, director Jon Pickering, and investment manager Phil Frame led the deal. Berry and Pickering join the Roberts Jackson board as non-executive directors while Frame joins as an observer.

Nick Townsend has joined the board as finance director and Paul Hewitt as chairman alongside founders Karen Jackson (pictured), chief executive, and Oliver Jackson, strategy director. Gladys Swaim-Rutter and Lorna Vanderkamp have been promoted to directors as part of the deal and are equity shareholders.

Jackson said that the introduction of ABSs has created ‘interesting opportunities’ for private equity. 

‘The investment from NorthEdge will allow us to accelerate the growth of the business, capitalise on new opportunities within the market and hopefully provide many more clients with the very best advice.’

NorthEdge Capital, which operates from Manchester and Leeds, is a £225m private equity fund with backing from 15 global institutional investors and 16 high-net-worth individuals.

It focuses exclusively on northern-based companies seeking equity investments and has made six investments in Accrol Papers, FPE Global, Fine Industries, Help-Link, Jigsaw24 and Utiligroup.

On its website, NorthEdge says it targets established businesses, typically with turnover greater than £10m and profits greater than £1.5m.

Jon Pickering said: ‘Roberts Jackson is a hugely successful business and we look forward to working alongside Karen, Oliver and the management team as the business continues to grow and develop. 

‘We are in no doubt that the coming months will see Roberts Jackson further increase its market share and continue to deliver unmatched specialist expertise.'

Although private equity has been available to law firms since the advent of ABSs in 2012, firms have been relatively slow to take up the opportunity.

Hamilton Bradshaw, James Caan’s investment vehicle, has invested in Midlands firm Knights Solicitors, Smedvig Capital last year pumped £4m into probate company Kings Court Trust and in 2012 Mayfair-based LDC, part of the Lloyds Banking Group, bought a 22.5% share in Keoghs.