Legal firm DWF grows business despite the pandemic

The legal firm DWF, which has an office in Leeds, today revealed that it had grown the business and strengthened its balance sheet, during a year that was dominated by the pandemic.

Sir Nigel Knowles

DWF, the global provider of legal and business services, has issued a trading update for its financial year ended 30 April 2021.

The group said it has continued to enjoy strong activity levels in the second half of the year, with revenue growth for the year of more than 13% (8% organic) and the pipeline remains robust. All divisions delivered growth over the year versus the prior year.

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The statement added: "Gross profit margins increased in every division and the group's cost to income ratio has reduced with the combined impact of these improvements driving a more than 120% adjusted profit before tax uplift compared to FY20. Adjusted profit before tax of £34m was c.15% ahead of market expectations."

"Net debt at £61m has reduced versus prior year despite deferred consideration and acquisition related payments of £17m."

The group also announces that it has acquired Zing 365 Holdings Limited, a compliance training business, and reached an agreement to acquire BCA Claims & Consulting Limited, trading as Barnescraig & Associates a Canadian insurance claims and loss adjusting business, to enhance its connected services offering.

The statement added: "As a result of the group's profit transformation, strong cash flow and positive outlook, the board currently anticipates recommending a final dividend for FY21 of 3p per share, taking the total FY21 dividend to 4.5p per share.

Sir Nigel Knowles, Chief Executive Officer, commented: "This week marks the first anniversary of my tenure as CEO and I am delighted with our results which show significant improvement on the prior year and a strong performance in their own right.

"We have grown the business, transformed our profitability, improved our operational efficiency and strengthened our balance sheet notwithstanding the impact of COVID-19 during the year. These results are testament to the resilience, dedication and excellence shown by our colleagues right across the business. Since my appointment last year, we have emphasised the importance of a 'one team' approach and it is paying off.

“We have very clear differentiators versus the rest of the legal sector: we are the only main market listed global legal business, we have a unique client proposition which offers integrated legal and business services, and in Mindcrest we are the only law firm to own a market leading alternative legal services provider. This significant global addressable market supports our confidence that we can continue to deliver strong growth in all of our markets, both organically and through acquisitions.

“We have continued to align our global businesses with our core strategy – reorganising operations in Australia, which is expected to be earnings enhancing, and striking new exclusive associations with firms in Singapore and South Africa. We already have established relationships and fee earning work is underway with these two firms and we see promising opportunities for more.

“We launched our new global operating structure on 1 May which will bring efficiencies to our business and enhance our ability to combine the services of our Legal Advisory, Mindcrest and Connected Services to deliver bespoke solutions to our clients with greater efficiency, price certainty and transparency. Our results reinforce the confidence we have in the execution of our strategy."