Birmingham-based Shakespeares – one of the fastest-growing law firms in the country – has announced another proposed acquisition as part of its growth strategy.
The firm has announced plans for a tie-up with Leicester-based Marrons, in a deal that is expected to be concluded in September.
It is thought to be the first of three such moves by Shakespeares as it continues apace on the acquisitions trail.
The Marrons agreement, if it goes ahead, will be the sixth for Shakespeares since 2010 and follows on from a merger with fellow Leicester practice Harvey Ingram last year.
Shakespeares, which last year became the second-largest law firm in the Midlands following its merger with Harvey Ingram, revealed in April it was aiming to make three further acquisitions over the next 12 months.
Its merger with Harvey Ingram saw the firm expand its reach to the East Midlands and Home Counties and reach an annual turnover of approximately £45 million.
Marrons is a specialist planning law practice and consultancy that employs 32 people working at one site close to Junction 21 of the M1.
Shakespeares said the merger would enhance its planning and property practice and complement its existing strengths in residential and commercial development and energy. Marrons enjoys a national reputation for planning and development delivered by its planning and property lawyers and its expanding planning consultancy.
Shakespeares’ commercial director Hamish Munro said: “We have announced our intention to merge with one of the UK’s foremost planning practices. This will be the sixth merger for our firm since 2010 and it will bring a further 32 people into our firm from Marrons’ Leicester base, which extends our investment in that region.
“The firm has three mergers planned in very short order and this merger will significantly enhance and support our credentials in the house-building industry and shows the firm’s continued investment in the property, energy and development industries.
“A critical factor was the fact Marrons has very complementary teams to our existing sector practices in property – specifically house building – and also energy. It is also providing further critical mass to our East Midlands practice.’’
Expansion at Shakespeares has seen the firm go from turning over £17 million six years ago to more than £45 million.
Major expansion has taken place since 2007, following a merger with Putsmans to become Shakespeare Putsman. Turnover then was £17 million and the firm employed 250 staff.
Staff numbers increased to 320 in 2010 following a merger with Needham & James, which had offices in Birmingham, Stratford-upon-Avon and the Cotswolds, creating a firm with £22 million of revenue.
The same year saw a merger with Nottingham-based Berryman, boosting turnover to £28 million and increasing staff numbers to 420.
Unified under the new Shakespeares banner in 2011 the firm went on to merge with specialist social housing firm Gorrara Haden Solicitors and Solihull-based Wood Glaister the same year.
Commenting on Shakespeares’ continued success in a sector facing an increasingly challenging environment Mr Munro added: “It is a hugely exciting role to be part of a management team of one of the fastest-growing firms in the country and a firm which is becoming one of the names – if not the name – to watch in the Midlands.
“Shakespeares has become a very well-known brand as a go-to place for mid-sized and larger corporates and high net worth individuals.
“Our position in the market, together with our financial cash-rich status, means businesses are keen to come to a firm which they can know has a good armoury and a range and depth of services to appeal to their legal and business requirements.
“I think the industry is ripe for innovation, new ideas and new thinking in the way legal services are delivered and our firm has been a pioneer in some of that and expects to continue to do so.
“The firm has stated its intentions to be the primary law firm in the Midlands, and that means continued investment and growth as we challenge Wragge & Co and other established firms for work with the larger and better-known corporates throughout the region.”
It is thought Shakespeares is set to announce its second acquisition of 2013 in early autumn, with a third by the end of the year or early 2014.
Shakespeares’ chief executive, Paul Wilson, added: “Marrons’ expertise perfectly complements our existing teams and this move is evidence of our wish to invest in and offer the full range of services to developers.
The planned merger is a further step forward in our growth plans to become the Midlands’ leading law firm.”