Corporate and commercial: Norwich in East Anglia
Birketts LLP has an outstanding reputation for corporate and transactional work, particularly in the Norwich market, though it also handles national and, increasingly, cross-border matters. The firm has specialists in public company work, mergers and acquisitions, corporate reorganisations, restructuring and employee ownership trusts. Adrian Possener, Greg Allan and Ed Savory are the three partners in the practice. Possener is known for public company work, IPOs and bond issues; Allan handles complex reorganisations and M&A; and Savory frequently acts for SMEs in East Anglia and further afield. 'The team at Birketts is responsive, commercial and knowledgeable,' remarks one client.
‘The team at Birketts is responsive, commercial and knowledgeable.‘
‘Ed Savory provides sound and commercial advice in a clear and concise manner. He is practical, proactive and approachable.‘
‘The firm provides excellent customer service, efficient and proactive communications and availability outside normal business hours. It challenges clients’ thinking. Working with the firm is an excellent experience.‘
‘For a regional firm there is a lot of City-trained talent within its ranks providing very good service all round.‘
‘Adrian Seagers as head of corporate will try and accommodate all your requests and he is approachable. Alexandra Nelson is pragmatic, energetic and a brilliant addition to the Birketts team.‘
‘Birketts is very responsive and flexible, does work quickly and understands our requirements very well. They are always keen to understand how we see things to ensure we get the outcome we need.‘
‘Adrian Possener is a very experienced partner, has a great legal mind, and is really easy to work with. He was one of the main reasons we started to work with Birketts.‘
‘Paul Palik is a very capable senior associate, who absorbs contract document details like few other lawyers I have worked with.‘
Black Swan International Limited
MayDay Integrated Office Supplies and Equipment Limited
- Advised TD Management Group Ltd on the management buy-out of Merit Plastics Limited.
- Advised owner Steve Howlett on the sale of Pipeshield International Limited to Tekmar plc for £6.5m.
- Advised BUUK on the sale of the internet service provider and a strategic partnership with SKY.
Mills & Reeve LLP has a strong regional and national presence for corporate and M&A work, and many of its transactions have an international element. Among its clients are private equity and venture capital investors, SMEs and large listed companies. In the Norwich office, Craig Hodgson is head of corporate and Greg Gibson leads on commercial matters. Head of the Norwich office James Hunter has more than 25 years' transactional experience, notably for owners and acquirers of mid-market businesses. Natalie Wade is recommended for work in the independent health sector acting for private equity buyers and large consolidators of dental practices and health providers. Senior associate Christina O’Brien is also recommended.
‘The firm is very diverse in the subject areas that it covers which makes it a good one-stop-shop for all requirements.’
‘The relationship partner is Craig Hodgson who is very well connected in the food, drink and agri sectors both in Norfolk but also nationally. He is very relaxed and knowledgeable.’
‘The firm have quality lawyers and do not load fee-earners onto matters. The result is that you get the right lawyer (partner or senior associate) actually doing the work rather than fronting it; the delivery is both quicker and more efficient, the result is value for money but most importantly, a good job done quickly.’
Business Growth Fund
Midwich Group plc
Randall & Quilter Investment Holdings Ltd
Refresco Beverages UK Limited
Robinsons Motor Group
RPC Group plc
Knight Frank LLP
Alan Turing Institute
Department for Work and Pensions
Department of Health and Social Care
Financial Conduct Authority
- Acted for Refresco, the world’s largest bottler of beverages, in its acquisition of a bottling plant and distribution centre in Milton Keynes and Northampton from Coca Cola.
- Acted for BGF Investments and the other shareholders of 3sun Group Limited (a specialist provider of products and services to the global renewable energy industry) on its disposal to Worley Ltd, the Australian-listed supplier of project and asset services for the energy, chemicals and resources sector.
- Advised national newspaper and magazine publisher, Archant (publisher of The New European and Eastern Daily Press), on the outsourcing of the printing of its newspapers, with more than 50 titles transferring to Newsprinters, a subsidiary of News UK, and, at the same time, on the outsourcing of newspaper distribution to Menzies and Smiths News.
Geoff Hazlewood in Ipswich leads the corporate and commercial practice at Ashtons Legal, which has strong practitioners in Norwich. It has particular expertise in work for veterinary practices, technology companies, care homes and regional banks. James Tarling advises a broad range of local businesses on corporate transactions, as well as assisting high-growth technology companies. John Chambers and Damian Humphrey are nationally recognised for their niche franchising expertise. Senior associate Mark Watson is also recommended. Clients praise the firm's 'quick and intelligent advice', noting that it has 'a good blend of skills that complement each other in getting the job done'.
‘Ashtons Legal has helped us to navigate through many of the business landscapes ranging from employment to business acquisitions. Through quick and intelligent advice they have allowed us to move and scale faster than our contemporaries.‘
‘Mark Watson and James Tarling, along with the wider Ashtons Legal team, have supported us through many planning stages and legal situations. James’s calm approach and broad knowledge of business have allowed us to avoid running into many of the potential pitfalls. Mark has provided great advice with a good eye for the detail needed in the documentation and contracts side of business growth. The Ashtons team has a good blend of skills that complement each other in getting the job done.‘
‘The firm has local knowledge with an appreciation of international requirements and “big business” advice.‘
‘Associate David Sloman has the ability to rapidly understand complete software requirements and turn them into easy-to-understand legal frameworks.‘
‘Dealing with solicitors can be stressful. We find working closely with Ashtons is very much like having them as part of our company.‘
‘Our main point of contact is James Tarling. His professional, yet calm, approach has been excellent for us during some challenging periods. We have always felt very comfortable being open and honest with James about our concerns. Most important for me is the ability to openly debate issues without feeling like my suggestions are being belittled, something I have experienced previously.‘
‘The firm has a personal approach and careful understanding of client needs and situation, backed up by experience and expertise.‘
‘James Tarling is an outstanding lawyer whose knowledge and patient professionalism inspire confidence.‘
The Payroll Service Company
Medical Management Systems
- Acting for the borrower in a £25m loan and credit facility from the University of Cambridge, to be used to design and build a new headquarters partially leased back to the University.
- Acting for the seller of Vaiopak, an award-winning food and beverage packaging manufacturing business, in its sale to Zeus, the Irish conglomerate, as one of a series of acquisitions by Zeus worth around €15m.
- Acted in a corporate restructuring of the corporate group of a care home provider with over a dozen sites; the restructure involved share and property transactions in excess of £3m and creates a new group valued at £45m.
Fosters has built a strong following for its outsourced in-house lawyer model, known as 'In House', based around the experience of Jamie Arnall who leads the two-partner practice. Arnall, whose previous experience includes a stint as head of legal for a Premier League football club and senior legal counsel for a FTSE 250 business, works closely with partner Fiona Stuart, who joined from Howes Percival LLP and whose primary focus is on insolvency and restructuring.
Other key lawyers:
‘The attention to detail, speed of response and understanding of our needs are always met.’
‘Jamie Arnall regularly goes over and above what could be reasonably expected to ensure we receive the best possible service.’
‘Fosters make themselves readily available around the clock, and always manage to come through even when their workload is high and they are busy with other things, particularly when we need support urgently.’
‘Fosters go above and beyond on each job, and always advise far beyond our initial questions/requirements.’
‘Jamie Arnall has an exceptional understanding of the inner workings and operations of our incredibly complicated businesses.’
‘Jamie Arnall is exceptionally friendly and approachable and has a fantastic sense of humour which always makes working with him even more enjoyable.’
‘Our relationship with Fosters is the finest example of forming a relationship with an external body that our business has seen.’
Nottingham Forest Football Club
International Venue Management Ltd
- Provided general commercial advice to Nottingham Forest Football Club Limited, on the basis of the ‘In House’ product, including drafting and reviewing a range of commercial and sponsorship agreements.
- Assisted International Venue Management Limited with managing the delivery of the Saudi Cup, the World’s richest horserace, in February 2020.
Howes Percival LLP has a new lead partner in Oliver Pritchard, who is practice head for both the Norwich and Cambridge offices. He joined from Browne Jacobson LLP in early 2020 and has specialist expertise in the healthcare sector, in which he acts for a national client base. The firm is also heavily involved in transactions in the leisure and tourism sector, in which it has recently completed high-profile deals for clients such as Craft Leisure Limited. The firm principally acts for owner-managed businesses, high-net-worth family estates and agriculture businesses. Nathan Horton left the firm to pursue a career outside the law.
‘The firm has a strong bank of knowledge within the corporate team and good attention to detail. Willing to go the extra mile particularly at the back end of a deal to get things done to the client’s desired timescales.‘
‘Associate Richard Turner is extremely hardworking and goes the extra mile to get deals across the line whilst protecting the client’s best interests at all times. Happy to roll his sleeves up to get things done.‘
‘Oliver Pritchard is new in post, but is already working with us on a couple of live cases and has proven to be commercially-minded, early indications are that this is a very positive recruitment move.‘
Ford Retail Limited
Hughes Electrical Group
Norse Care Limited
Craft Leisure Limited
Lind Triumph Limited
O’Callaghan Hotels Group
Tufts Development Limited
Lind Triumph Limited
Bossick Hotels Limited
- Advised Craft Leisure Limited on its purchase of Norfolk Broads Holdings Limited which is one of the largest providers of river trips, boating holidays and boat hire on the Norfolk Broads.
- Advised Norse Care, the region’s largest care home provider, on its purchase of the All Hallows nursing home business in Norfolk.
- Advised James Armstrong and Company Limited (a subsidiary of Hughes Electrical Limited) on its merger with Solent Laundry Solutions (Holding) Limited which created the new merged entity, WashCo Limited.
Steeles Law acts for large household names based in East Anglia, as well as a number of national businesses. The practice team has only one partner, but it acts for large national companies such as Hovis and Cox Powertrain. It also advises a Westminster political party on regulatory and governance matters. Practice head Richard Bailey, who acts for a number of national trade associations, is recognised as a leading expert on commercial agency law. 'The firm is very pragmatic and cost-effective, and it has excellent partners,' remarks one client. Senior commercial solicitor Alistair Ponder joined from Spire Solicitors LLP.
Other key lawyers:
‘The firm is very pragmatic and cost-effective, and it has excellent partners.‘
‘They are a cut above in terms of common sense and how the world actually works. Also, they are not simply trying to maximise their own fees.‘
Broadland Guarding Services Limited
Symphony Talent Limited (formerly Hodes UK Limited)
Fresh Motors Ltd
- Acted for Fresh Motors Ltd in the acquisition of assets in trading business, advising an award-winning entrepreneur on all aspects of his corporate expansion.
Clapham & Collinge Solicitors
Clapham & Collinge Solicitors has seen growing activity for its corporate and commercial department, which is led by senior associate Jade Tinney with the support of consultant Hugh Berridge and an expanding team of junior lawyers. The firm acts for numerous SMEs in Norfolk but its client base includes a growing number of large business owners and high-net-worth individuals. Tinney's expertise includes acquisitions and disposals, management buy outs, shareholders’ and partnership agreements, corporate restructuring and lending, and the review of contracts and terms and conditions.
Other key lawyers:
- Represented a client in engaging in negotiations with prospective new purchasers of a company in which he is a shareholder.
- Assisted a client with entering into a loan agreement and associated security documents.
- Assisted a client with buyback documentation with the companies in which he holds shares.
Spire Solicitors LLP has seven offices in the region, though its corporate and commercial practice is centred on Norwich. Roger Margand and Matthew Downing lead the practice, which expanded with junior hires including solicitor James Hopgood from Steeles Law. Clients of Margand praise the 'care and attention he puts into the drafting of contracts and the trouble he takes to patiently answer queries'. The firm frequently handles corporate finance and commercial contract matters for owner-managed businesses and larger corporate entities. Partner Alistair Ponder moved to Steeles Law.
Other key lawyers:
‘I greatly value the counsel and support of Roger Margand, commercial business partner at Spire Solicitors. Not only has he taken the time to really understand my requirements, but he has a genuine interest in our business and a desire to see us do well. This comes across in the care and attention he puts into the drafting of our contracts and the trouble he takes to patiently answer my many queries.‘
‘A highly qualified team that is extremely well experienced but down to earth, able to give support and advice in a way a non-legal mind can follow, and very approachable.‘
‘Matthew Downing is extremely approachable, professional and superb at what he does. He is very flexible in his approach and has his clients’ interests at heart.‘
‘Roger Margand is consistent, thorough, helpful and very responsive. I could not recommend him highly enough.‘
Flagship Housing Group
Centurion Safety Products Ltd
Lucas Fettes & Partners (Financial Services) Ltd
Heritage Legal and Financial Limited
Neighbourhood Dining Limited
Micross Components Limited
JS (Norwich) Limited t/a Jackson Stops
One Broker Group
The Fishmongers’ Company
- Advised Centurion Safety Products Ltd, an established designer and manufacturer with around 140 years history, on a number of high-value interconnected contractual arrangements relating to its supply chain and customer contracts, both nationally and internationally, including relationships in the UK, USA, China and Taiwan.
- Advised Neighbourhood Dining Limited on acquiring Zaks UK Limited, including its three Norwich-based American-themed Zaks restaurants, for an undisclosed sum.
- Advising one side of a management buyout on the complex break up of an existing family business, which involved share purchases and various asset transfers and had an approximate combined value of £9m.
Rogers and Norton
At Rogers and Norton, practice head and managing partner Richard Etheridge has a strong focus on the sale and purchase of GP practices, for which he is regarded as one of the market's leading advisers. The firm also handles a broad range of corporate finance work for local SMEs, including share buybacks and MBOs.