Ince Group calls in administrators

Troubled listed top 50 UK law firm seeks buyer after major creditor withdraws support
April 13 2019: Image taken of Aldgate Tower at 2 Leman Street, London E1 8FA. Aldgate station was not busy as this was taken on a weekday late afternoon.

Ince's London headquarters at Aldgate Tower Mrtravelbunny; Shutterstock

Listed top 50 UK legal business Ince Group has today announced its intention to appoint administrators in a bid to secure its sale.

In a statement filed with the London Stock Exchange this afternoon, the group said it had been informed by a major creditor that it would no longer support the business, which recorded revenue of just over £100m in the 20/21 financial year.

This, the statement said, had triggered the group's intention to file court documents today to secure the appointment of insolvency specialist Quantuma as administrators 'in the expectation that Quantuma will implement a sale of the Group's business to a third party purchaser as soon as possible'.

The move comes after a lengthy period of turbulence for the group, which ran into financial difficulties during the Covid-19 pandemic and whose shares have been suspended since 3 January due to repeated delays in the publication of its annual report for the financial year ending 31 March 2022.

The statement said the length of the auditing process had ‘put increasing pressure on the cash flows of the business’ leading it to hold discussions with ‘its major lender and other creditors, including HMRC, to establish their level of support’.

Ince, a well-known shipping firm, was acquired by listed firm Gordon Dadds in December 2019 after it went into administration. The group adopted the Ince brand with the ambition of building a ‘world-class business advisory group’.

However, in the 2020/21 financial year it recorded a 59% fall in operating profit to £3.1m after incurring a series of ‘non-underlying’ Covid-19 related costs, including £3.2m associated with the permanent closure of one of the two floors at its London headquarters. 

In July last year, it parted company with its chief executive, Adrian Biles, and embarked on an £8.6m fund raising in response to ‘financial difficulties’ fuelled by the impact of Covid-19, Russia's invasion of Ukraine and a costly cyber attack. 

Biles was replaced by Donald Brown, who was executive director and CEO of Arden Partners, a corporate advisory business acquired by Ince in April 2022 and sold on in November at a loss against the background of significantly declining revenues.

In recent months, Ince has experienced several partner departures, including that of senior partner Julian Clark, who last month joined Norwegian marine insurance business Gard

Further reading: A very mixed picture at best: the listed law firms' roller coaster ride

Email your news and story ideas to: