Corporate and commercial: Norwich in East Anglia

Birketts LLP

Birketts LLP has an outstanding reputation for corporate and transactional work, and its Norwich office is key to its firmwide offering. Its work spans M&A, public company transactions and corporate reorganisations for regional and national clients. Greg Allan, who is 'an excellent communicator, very focused on the deal’, and Adrian Possener are the lead partners. Up-and-coming partner Ed Savory and legal director Paul Palik are praised for being 'highly efficient and competent in solving legal issues'. The practice is increasingly involved in cross-border matters, notably international distribution and agency matters.

Practice head(s):

Greg Allan; Adrian Possener

Other key lawyers:

Ed Savory; Paul Palik

Testimonials

‘Birketts has the size necessary to follow a 360-degree M&A process. This practice is very useful and effective as it allows with a single work team to address all the problems arising from an acquisition process.’

‘The partner and associate I worked with have been very professional and available to help us in each problems arose over the transaction.’

‘Greg Allan is an excellent communicator; very focused on the deal.’

‘Paul Palik and Ed Savory have been highly competent and efficient in managing our legal requirements. Couldn’t ask for anymore. Exemplary service.’

‘Paul Palik and Ed Savory have been highly efficient and competent in solving legal issues and drafting documentation. They really have provided an excellent all-round service.’

Key clients

Black Swan International Limited

Tex Holdings PLC

Dan Croft/Vanilla Electronics

County Care Homes Limited

Alan & Jane Bird

BUUK

Work highlights

  • Advised the shareholders on the sale of Saxlingham Hall Nursing Home Limited to Healthcare Homes Group.
  • Advising the shareholders and management on the sale of Vanilla Electronics to Literacy Capital.

Mills & Reeve LLP

Mills & Reeve LLP has 'an excellent blend of commercial experience, pragmatism and efficiency in getting deals done'. The Norwich office is a key pillar of the firm's national practice, which frequently handles cross-border transactions. In 2020, the firm handled deals involving the US, China, India, Australia and numerous European jurisdictions. The 'very personable, extremely knowledgable' Craig Hodgson leads on corporate transactions and Greg Gibson on commercial matters. Head of the Norwich office James Hunter and health sector specialist Natalie Wade also play key roles in the practice. Senior associate Christina O’Brien stands out for private equity and healthcare transactions.

Practice head(s):

Craig Hodgson; Greg Gibson

Other key lawyers:

James Hunter; Natalie Wade; Christina O’Brien; Sam Sutton

Testimonials

‘I am very happy with the team. They are very responsive and charge reasonable rates.’

‘Our client relationship partner is Craig Hodgson. I thorough enjoy working with Craig. He is very personable, extremely knowledgable about the food sector and well connected. He calls me frequently to check in, which is good.’

‘I like the range of services they provide and the fact that I can refer something to the client partner in the morning and be having a conversation with a specialist by the end of the day. I like that they take the time to understand my business and that they have been so responsive during difficult times of COVID.’

‘I have had a great level of service from all of the staff with whom we work, many of whom have gone above and beyond the call of duty with COVID related work.’

‘Very experienced and professional at all times. Lots of good advice and suggestions which helped on our work with them.’

‘Very professional. Trusted. Obvious experience around M&A activity.’

‘They have an excellent blend of commercial experience, pragmatism and efficiency in getting deals done. Transactions have been completed to budgets which themselves have been set with a the right balance of value for money and realism. The office is small enough that associates know and can involve the right experts from a variety of other disciplines.’

‘Sam Sutton has consistently delivered on every M&A transaction. His pragmatic advice, focus and commitment has been much appreciated.

Key clients

Foresight Group LLP

F-Star Therapeutics Inc.

Midwich Group plc

Randall & Quilter Investment Holdings

Department of Health and Social Care

Refresco Beverages UK

Supply Chain Co-ordination Limited

Industrial Chemicals Group

Archant Group

Countrystyle Recycling Group

Public Health England

Simplify

BFG Partners

BGF Investments LLP

Berry Global, Inc

The British Council

Department for Work and Pensions

Work highlights

  • Acted for shareholders on the disposal of Notice Media Ltd, the company behind ‘Know Your Money’, one of the UK’s biggest price comparison websites for financial products to Nerd Wallet Inc.
  • Advised on the acquisition by The Queen Elizabeth Hospital King’s Lynn NHS Foundation Trust of The Sandringham Hospital, a private hospital facility previously owned by BMI.
  • Advising Public Health England on the structure, procurement and drafting of the National Microbiology Framework, which has an advertised value of £20bn, and will play a vital role in ensuring that public health laboratories and NHS trusts can meet the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic and future pandemics and health crises.

Ashtons Legal

Ashtons Legal has a ‘friendly, approachable and knowledgeable team‘. Geoff Hazlewood leads the corporate practice from Ipswich, but the Norwich office has significant partner-level experience in James Tarling, who specialises in advising high-growth technology companies and has ‘an excellent understanding of the tech and engineering sector‘. Senior associate Mark Watson handles corporate transactions and complex commercial arrangements for both local and national businesses. The firm also has a market-leading franchising practice led by Damian Humphrey and consultant John Chambers.

Practice head(s):

Geoff Hazlewood

Other key lawyers:

James Tarling; Mark Watson; Damian Humphrey; John Chambers; Richard Bailey

Testimonials

‘Mark Watson is very capable and delivers me what I need.’

‘I really like the way that Mark Watson is able to talk to me in simple layman’s terms, then goes away and does all the difficult bits. Mark is my go to guy for all things corporate.’

‘Friendly approachable and knowledgeable team of people. Clear understanding of their subject which builds trust quickly, with an emphatic manner of understand your issue or concern. Always feel like you and your issue are important and not just another job to be done. Responsive both in-person and, so importantly in the last strange year, via phone or email.’

‘James Tarling has an excellent understanding of the tech and engineering sector. Hugely personable and even-mannered with great depth of expert knowledge.’

‘Ashtons has been supporting us on our journey for a good few years. They have provided expert guidance and have shielded us from distractions, so we have been able to concentrate on delivering growth.’

‘Mark Watson is our main contact and provides swift, intelligent responses to all our business questions.’

Key clients

Cosworth Group

Medical Management Systems

TaxAssist Group

Signs Express

Norwich Heating and Plumbing

Wrightway Health

Work highlights

  • Advising shareholders on sale of 100% of the issued share capital of Wrightway Health to AIM listed Marlowe Plc for £4.5m.
  • Advising Fore Fitness Group on Future Fund convertible loan and related corporate transactions.
  • Advising shareholders of a leisure and tourism business on £22.5m capital demerger.

Fosters

The corporate and commercial practice at Fosters provides an outsourced legal service for business of all sizes and across a broad range of sectors. Among the companies taking advantage of this service are The British Basketball League and Datawave Networks Limited. The practice is run by 'exceptionally bright, patient and valuable lawyer' Jamie Arnall, whose previous experience includes a stint as head of legal at Norwich City Football Club. He is ably supported by associates Phillip Hopkins and Charlotte Darkins.

Practice head(s):

Jamie Arnall

Other key lawyers:

Phillip Hopkins; Charlotte Darkins

Testimonials

‘Fosters approach is more focused on understanding the requirement, delivering what is needed and adding value – rather than a focus on fees. Often they go over and above and deliver additional support as a result. It feels more of a partnership than a client/solicitor relationship.’

‘Our primary partner is Jamie Arnall. He is just an exceptionally bright, patient and valuable lawyer.’

‘The team are an extension of our in-house team. We feel comfortable sending them work that is out of the ordinary or when the in-house team is overwhelmed and they always respond promptly.’

‘Jamie Arnall is the standout partner that we work with. He knows what is important to the club and always strikes the right balance between time pressures and detail. Charlotte Darkins is also a very capable lawyer and works very closely with us.’

‘The team is well-knitted, helpful, and enthusiastic. They are very obviously motivated to do their best for their respective clients and nothing is too much trouble.’

‘The team members of Jamie Arnall, Charlotte Darkins, and Philip Hopkins are exceptional individuals. They are on-call at most times and always respond to either a phone call or email pretty much immediately. ’

‘Our experience is that this is a solution driven legal practice engaging only where there is added value and therefore being an efficient and affordable service. ’

‘Our legal advice has good practical knowledge of the sporting industry and therefore has a 360-degree understanding of how all contributors operate and are motivated. It leads to better outcomes and quicker solutions.’

Key clients

Datawave Networks Limited

CHQ Group Ltd

Country Grounds Maintenance Limited

Page Bros (Norwich) Limited

Real Project Management Limited

iPinnacle Limited

The British Basketball League

Management team of Bateman Groundworks Limited

Park Community Arena Ltd

Virtual Equestrian Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised Page Bros (Norwich) Limited on the sale of the company.
  • Providing ongoing advice to Datawave Networks Limited including the Cypriot and UK subsidiary incorporations; the advice and negotiation of a $300m supply contract, and other commercial agreements with contractors and suppliers based worldwide.
  • Assisted and advised the management team of Bateman Groundworks Limited on a management buy-out including the successful negotiation of the share purchase agreement, shareholders’ agreement and articles of association.

Howes Percival LLP

Howes Percival LLP's Norwich office is a key pillar of its firmwide corporate, commercial and banking practice. Oliver Pritchard leads the East Anglia corporate team, which acts for numerous mid-market companies across the region, as well as for large family-owned businesses. It is particularly notable for advice on M&A deals, demergers and MBOs, and it frequently acts for clients in the leisure and tourism sectors. Pritchard has a special focus on healthcare deals, supported by senior associate Richard Turner.

Practice head(s):

Oliver Pritchard

Other key lawyers:

Richard Turner

Testimonials

‘Oliver Pritchard always gives close personal attention to any transaction and manages the team well to ensure that client service is of the highest quality.’

‘Richard Turner is hard working and diligent, always working to provide top quality service to clients on a timely basis.’

‘Oliver Pritchard grasped the nature of our rather unusual deal quickly.’

‘Richard Turner dealt with the detail of our deal in a very efficient manner.’

‘Oliver Pritchard led the team, and showed a great deal of commercial sensitivity.’

Key clients

Hughes Electrical Group

Norse Care Limited

The Lind Group

Accentuate Group Ltd/Global Chair Components Ltd

British Marine Federation

Falcon Tower Crane Services Ltd

Glazing Vision Limited

Mortar Investments PTE Limited

Snowmountain Enterprises Limited

South Norfolk Healthcare C.I.C

HSBC Bank plc

Ford Retail Limited

Abacus Hotels Limited

Fleur Developments Limited

Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association

Work highlights

  • Advising the management team on the MBO of the Falcon Tower Cranes Group, the largest independent tower crane supplier in the UK.
  • Acting for the founder shareholders of Vetroplas Packaging Limited on the sale to an Italian-based packaging manufacturer.
  • Advising the management team on the MBO of Glazing Vision Limited, the market leaders in the design, manufacture and supply of precision engineered, architectural glass roof lights for residential and commercial buildings.

Isadore Goldman

Isadore Goldman joins the ranking this year having brought in a full-time partner to the Norwich office. Nathan Muskett's career has seen him work at large regional firms, developing a long track record in advising on the sell-side for family-owned and owner managed businesses. In 2020, he acted for Sage ISV Rockstar partner Roveel on its early investment rounds, and handled a number of multimillion-pound transactions.

Practice head(s):

Nathan Muskett

Key clients

Hugh J Boswell

AT Promotions Limited t/a Listwood

Roveel

Sutherlands of Portsoy

Lord and Lady Huggins

Tanner Brodin (t/a Savoy Catering)

Albies Taxies

Cladspray Solutions

Flameskill

Work highlights

  • Advising the Ntjortjis family on the sale of Savoy Catering.
  • Advised Southwold Holdings Limited on the sale of BHMA.

Spire Solicitors LLP

Spire Solicitors LLP is praised for its 'speed and consistent delivery on commitments, and its pragmatic approach'. Experienced corporate finance partner Matthew Downing leads the practice and is 'very commercial, offering clear and concise advice that is easy to understand'. Roger Margand has more than 20 years' experience in healthcare, education and corporate governance matters. The firm has a network of offices across Norfolk but the bulk of the practice is based in Norwich. It advises on corporate finance and commercial contract matters for numerous owner-managed businesses.

Practice head(s):

Matthew Downing

Other key lawyers:

Roger Margand; James Hopgood

Testimonials

‘Spires Solicitors continued professionalism and support of our organisation is first-rate. I have always found them proactive, communicative and very much focused on our needs.’

‘I have worked with Roger Margand for many years and always find his work ethic and professionalism first rate. That is also clearly reflected in other members of his team.’

‘Speed and consistent delivery on commitments. Pragmatic approach.’

‘Shout out to James Hopgood and Roger Margand. Both are very pragmatic and responsive business partners for us to have. Deadlines are always met and there is never a sign of frustration from either of them.’

‘Roger Margand is very knowledgeable in the education field. He also understands the relationship between trust schools and the local authority.’

‘I know that I can easily get hold of the people I want to speak to, and that my queries/instructions will be dealt with in a timely and efficient manner. Individuals take responsibility for the work, and one is not passed off onto junior members. The individuals I deal with do communicate internally which has resulted in Spire understanding our business. This reflects in the quality of the advice provided. This is not always the case with other firms.’

‘Matthew Downing clearly understands our business. This makes it easier when issuing instructions and reflects in the tailored advice received. Matt is very commercial and offers clear and concise advice that is easy to understand. One gets the impression that Matt clearly wants to help the organisation I work for, rather than just make money.’

‘Roger Margand is a great personal friend – he has a great ability to offer me independent advice. He can split the personal and the corporate very well and I am pleased to have him advise me when I need it.’

Key clients

Flagship Housing Group

Centurion Safety Products Ltd

Lucas Fettes & Partners (Financial Services) Ltd

One Broker Limited

Heritage Legal and Financial Limited

Work highlights

  • Advised a business owner on the £3m sale of the entire issued share capital of a company in a management buyout.
  • Advising a corporate client on various acquisitions and the lending arrangements to support the transactions, with an approximate combined value of £4m.
  • Advised Centurion Safety Products Ltd, an established UK manufacturer with over 140 years history, on a number of contractual arrangements relating to its supply chain and customer contracts, both nationally and internationally, including relationships in the UK, Sweden, Taiwan and the US.