Manchester law giant DWF tops £400m revenue

DWF CEO Nigel Knowles

Manchester-headquartered international law firm DWF Group plc said on Wednesday its revenue rose 12% to £400.9 million in the year to April 30, 2021, with adjusted profit before tax up 125% to £34.2 million.

Net revenue rose 14% to £338.1 million and the firm reported a statutory pre-tax loss of £30.6 million “due to significant, largely non-cash, acquisition and closure/scale back related expenses treated as non-underlying items.”

DWF declared a final dividend of 3.0p per share, taking the total dividend for the year to 4.5p, reflecting a pay-out ratio of 61% of adjusted profit after tax. 

“This pay-out ratio is viewed as a meaningful step towards the target of up to 70%,” said DWF.

In its outlook, DWF said: “The first two months of trading for FY22 have been strong, showing continued organic net revenue growth and gross margin development …

“As restrictions continue to ease, we expect a favourable trading environment for FY22 and for our approach to integrated legal management to continue to expand existing client relationships and secure new client wins …

Whilst there is upward cost pressure due to competition for talent in a buoyant legal sector, the removal of material drag factors (i.e. closures and scale-backs in FY21) is expected to support continued growth in net profitability.”

DWF Group CEO Nigel Knowles said: “FY2020/21 was a transformational year for DWF and I am delighted that the tremendous resilience, dedication and excellence of our colleagues has been rewarded with these strong results.

“The results reflect a return to pre-COVID-19 activity levels, but they also evidence the importance of the decisive actions we took throughout the year as we focused on driving greater operational efficiency, profitability and strategic alignment.

“I am especially pleased to see revenue and gross profit margin growth in every division of the group.

“This demonstrates the strengths we have right across the business, the broad appeal of our offerings in their own right, and how these can be even more powerful when combined through our differentiated Integrated Legal Management approach.

“We have now implemented our new global operating structure to streamline the group into three global divisions of Legal Advisory, Mindcrest and Connected Services.

“We believe this is an important step forward in our strategy and will help us to fulfil our vision of becoming the leading global provider of integrated legal and business services.