DWF, Manchester law giant, flags £350m net revenue

Manchester-headquartered international law firm DWF Group plc published a trading update for its financial year ended April 30, 2022, saying it expects to report net revenue of £350 million reflecting like-for-like growth of more than 6%, including 9% growth in DWF’s biggest market, the UK.

The firm, which employs 4,000 people around the world, said it expects adjusted profit before tax of not less than £41 million, in line with market expectations and 20% higher than the prior year.

DWF said it has a “healthy pipeline of M&A opportunities under consideration” and is confident in its medium term guidance provided in July 2021.

DWF also announced an exclusive affiliation agreement with Hauzen LLP, a Hong Kong law firm which it said will strengthen the firm’s global offering and complements its association with Eldan Law in Singapore announced in April 2021.

“Growth continued in H2, with business activity and utilisation having normalised from the peak of H1, as colleagues took much-deserved holiday after almost two years of pandemic restrictions,” said DWF.

“Despite an increase in Covid related sickness absence during Q4 (which has now normalised), the rate of revenue growth during that period was 8% reflecting momentum that gives confidence in the FY23 outlook.

“Adjusted profit before tax is in line with expectations and 20% ahead of a strong prior year.  This represents a 1.6 percentage point increase in adjusted PBT margin to 11.7%.”

DWF CEO Nigel Knowles said: “The FY22 results demonstrate significant progress towards our medium term guidance which we are confident will continue during FY23.

“We have enjoyed strong like-for-like growth and a 20% increase in adjusted profit before tax, underpinned by our integrated model and our less cyclical businesses, such as insurance, litigation and regulatory work, where we do not see the sort of volatility that can occur in more transaction focussed firms.

“We are continuing to build out our international footprint, with the latest agreement signed with Hauzen in Hong Kong.

“This is a key global financial centre and we see a clear opportunity to increase activity focused on areas where we have sector strength, but without overcommitting operationally.

“As our integrated model matures, we expect strong organic growth to continue and we are also seeing a number of opportunities for future M&A.

“Whilst we are mindful of the ongoing inflationary backdrop and geopolitical uncertainties, we look forward to making more progress in FY23 and delivering further value to all of our stakeholders.”