South London-based law firm acquired in pre-pack sale

Thu, 21 May 2020 | BUSINESS SALE

Croydon-based McMillan Williams Solicitors (MSW) has been sold in a pre-pack administration deal to consumer law firm Taylor Rose. All 420 MSW staff will transfer as part of the deal. Through the acquisition, Taylor Rose will become a top 75 UK law firm, with 32 offices across the country and revenue of around £45 million. The group will be the fifth largest residential conveyancer in the UK.

Founded in 1983 and co-incorporated in 2013, MSW was a fast-growing, multi-discipline business. It provided legal aid, private client, clinical negligence and personal injury claims services. In 2015, it received a £5 million investment from growth fund BGF and, to the year ending April 2019, it registered turnover of more than £30 million.

However, the company encountered difficulties and was sued by a former partner this year. The company appointed Sean Bucknall and Andy Hosking of business advisory firm Quantuma as joint administrators.

Bucknall said: "Historic debt and limited headroom within existing facilities has meant that MW were unable to secure additional working capital to weather the current economic climate. The sale to Taylor Rose provides the best possible outcome for the firm and its creditors as well as protecting clients’ interests, preserving hundreds of jobs and creating a strong combined brand."

Taylor Rose chief executive Adrian Jaggard said: “Taylor Rose aims to be a leading player in the UK consumer law market. The excellent fit of our two businesses is clear and is a major step forward in achieving our goal.”

This month, Taylor Rose bought client files from online conveyancing firm Fletcher Longstaff, which had entered administration due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has significantly impacted the housing market.

Simon Davis, president of the Law Society, has warned that the pandemic could see more than 70 per cent of high street firms close, saying the shock to the legal system had been “sudden and severe”, leading to law firms seeing “a dramatic plunge in business”.

Joint administrator Sean Bucknall also discussed the difficulties facing law firms, saying: “The high fixed cost base and highly leveraged model of many law firms leaves them particularly vulnerable to the fall-out from the Covid-19 pandemic. We are already seeing many law firms already in serious financial difficulty and unfortunately this administration will be the first of many.”

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