Law firm maintains strong profit margin despite market uncertainty
Scottish law firm Burness Paull, which has offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen, has reported an increase in annual turnover for the financial year ending 31 July 2016, up 3.9% to £53.3million from £51.3million the previous year.
The firm recorded a profit of £22.6million, down 3.4% from £23.4million in 2015, citing post-Brexit uncertainty as leading to a significant pause in activity and client instructions.
Chairman Philip Rodney said: “Unlike most firms, our financial year runs to 31 July rather than 30 April. The anticipation of, and the changed circumstances brought about by the outcome of the EU referendum inevitably impacted adversely on the last couple of months’ trading and are reflected in our results.
“The decision to leave the EU has been felt widely, as can be seen from organisations reporting across all sectors of the UK business community.
“While there will continue to be uncertainties, we are beginning to experience nearer normal market conditions as we work with our clients to support them in these changed circumstances.”While the results show more modest growth compared with the 38% increase over the last three years, profit margin still remains high at more than 40%, with a number of successes setting the firm up well for the 2016/17 financial year:
Completed the first private rented sector deal in Scotland
Completed the acquisition of the Eastgate Shopping Centre in Inverness – Scotland’s largest retail investment transaction of 2015
Advised US drinks giant Brown-Forman on its acquisition of BenRiach
Advised Standard Life Investments on its sponsorship of the British and Irish Lions rugby team
Growth was also seen in the firm’s funds and banking business.
During 2015/16 the 59 partner, 500-strong firm made substantial investments of more than £1million in its people, systems and property.
Recent promotions include Paula Kennedy to partner in banking and funds, and Steven Guild to partner in dispute resolution, in Edinburgh and Aberdeen respectively.
Key lateral appointments were made in Glasgow of Ronnie Brown to lead the firm’s specialist tax division and Callum Sinclair who will head up the technology sector group.
Rodney added: “We believe that the technology sector in Scotland will see significant growth over the next five years.
“There is also an exciting and increasing requirement for top-tier support in this sector from our growing international client portfolio.
“We have won a number of new key clients over the last year including Scottish Leather and Ecotricity. We were also appointed to the European Panel of Weir Group.
“Going forward, while it is important for us to retain our Scottish market intimacy and focus, international work – which now accounts for nearly 40% of annual turnover – is creating a number of real opportunities particularly in the US, Canada, China and Norway.”
The focus for Burness Paull going into the new financial year is to facilitate further growth and create efficiencies.
Rodney said: “There’s no doubt that continued uncertainty will remain as we enter this new financial year.
“But with our Scottish market intimacy, combined with the dynamic approach and our absolute commitment to our clients, we believe that the 2016/17 financial year will certainly be one of great opportunity.”