DWF reports double digit increase in first-half revenue as activity recovers

Firm 'cautiously optimistic' for H2 after 'very pleasing recovery' from Covid-19 disruption

Listed UK law firm DWF has unveiled a 14% increase in first-half revenue to £147m against pre-tax profits of £13m.

In a trading statement released today, the firm said it had achieved organic growth of 1% for the six months to 31 October, once its acquisitions of Spanish independent RCD and US managed services businesses Mindcrest in its last financial year were taken into account.

It added that activity was returning to pre-Covid levels while ‘strict control of overheads’ combined with a cost-cutting programme implemented over the summer was improving margins.

“In aggregate, these revenue and cost dynamics have delivered an increase in underlying adjusted EBITDA and profit before tax (PBT) of more than 25% compared to the prior year, with underlying adjusted PBT for the half year being close to the £13.8m achieved in full year FY20,” the firm said.

The firm said net debt of £59m amounted to a £6m reduction from its position in April, reflecting improved lock up day performance with lock up days cut by around 10 compared to last year. It said further improvements to lockup days remained a key priority given the opportunity for further reductions in borrowings.

"We have seen a very pleasing recovery in activity levels since the dip caused by Covid-19 in Q4 of FY20,” said chief executive Sir Nigel Knowles. “We have prioritised organic growth, acquisition integration and operational efficiency and this focus, combined with our cost reduction measures, has delivered strong profit improvement for the group.”

He added that the firm was cautiously optimistic about H2.

Knowles, DWF’s former chairman, replaced long-standing chief executive Andrew Leaitherland in May after the firm said it had experienced ‘greater than anticipated’ disruption from the impact of Covid-19 forcing it to revise down its projected revenue growth ‘further reducing the group’s profit expectations for FY20’.

In June, the firm said it was closing its Brussels and Singapore offices and reducing the size of its Dubai and Cologne arms in a move that would lead to 60 job losses, including those of 13 partners. The following month, it announced the closure of its flexible resourcing arm and a redundancy programme affecting 15-18 central services staff.

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