DWF Group reports strong trading for Q1 2021

legal

DWF Group plc (LON:DWF), the global legal business, has announced a trading update for the first quarter of FY21.

 Unaudited*Unaudited*Unaudited*
£mFY21 Q1FY20 Q1Change
Net revenue84.370.120.3%
Gross profit41.535.417.2%
Gross profit margin (%)49.2%50.5%-1.3 ppts
Underlying adjusted EBITDA9.74.0144.7%
Underlying adjusted PBT7.42.2231.4%
Reported PBT-0.61.9-133.9%
Net debt (excluding IFRS 16)(55.2)(48.3)14.3%

*Source: July 2020 Management Accounts

FY21 TRADING UPDATE

  • Strong trading for the first three months of FY21 with revenue of £84.3m reflecting growth of 20% and Underlying adjusted EBITDA of £9.7m reflecting growth of 145% vs. prior year.
  • Organic revenue growth of 5% yoy and total revenue growth of 20% reflecting the contribution from the acquisitions of RCD in Spain and Mindcrest
  • Previously announced cost savings of £15m in FY21 are taking effect and are reflected in the significant uplift in EBITDA versus prior year, with cost to income ratio trending at 38% compared to 45% in the prior year 
  • Disposed, closed or reduced scale of operations in Cologne, Dubai, Singapore and Brussels with further measures taken post year-end to rationalise underperforming units
  • Net debt of £55.2m reflecting a £9.7m reduction on the April 20 position and reflecting free cash flow generation of £18.5m for the first three months of the year
  • Lock up days reduced from 206 at April 2020 to 200 at the end of Q1 reflecting trading conditions returning to normal
  • Significant bid activity and new contract win with multinational insurance company, Aviva
  • Our Net Promoter Score with key clients is very positive at 50, and 47 overall, based on 403 clients providing feedback
  • Strong pipeline of opportunities including Managed Services bid activity supports optimism for the FY21 outturn, subject to overall market conditions
  • In addition to proposing a final dividend for FY20, moving forward the Board remains committed to its stated dividend policy of a payout ratio of up to 70% of Adjusted Profit after Tax.

Sir Nigel Knowles, DWF Group Chief Executive Officer commented:

“Trading through the majority of FY20 was strong and the Group made significant investments to support its growth objectives. The sudden and far reaching impact of COVID-19 had a material effect on the final quarter with a resulting impact on profitability. Despite this, we delivered a solid performance with overall revenue growth of 10.9% and organic growth of 2.0%. While we achieved record Group revenue, with an organic growth rate that compares to other global law firms in FY20, it was lower than expected.

“The strength and resilience of the Group and our differentiated model has been evident in the first three months of FY21. We have seen strong activity levels generating positive momentum across the business resulting in revenue and EBITDA being materially ahead of the prior year.

“We have also taken decisive action focused on consolidating our existing operations to increase profitability, delivering cost efficiencies and improving lock-up and cash generation. Measures to scale-up Managed Services and optimise the International division will position DWF well for FY21 and beyond. Having spoken with many of our stakeholders, I am very pleased that our new focus has such strong support and remain positive about DWF’s future prospects.”

BOARD APPOINTMENTS

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Further to the appointment of Jonathan Bloomer as Non Executive Chairman and Chris Sullivan taking on the new role of Deputy Chairman with effect from 1 August 2020, the Board is pleased to announce the following appointments with effect from 22 October 2020:

  • Matthew Doughty as Group Chief Operating Officer of DWF Group plc.  Matthew Doughty will step down as Partner Director at the same time; and
  • Following a thorough internal recruitment process, Michele Cicchetti and Seema Bains as Partner Directors of DWF Group plc.  The position of Partner Director is designated by the Board as a Non-independent, Non-Executive Director position. A Partner Director represents the partners of DWF Law LLP and DWF LLP and is therefore a partner shareholder representative on the Board.

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