DWF, the global legal business, today announces its full-year results for the year ended 30 April 2020 as well as an update on current trading.
FY20 FINANCIAL HIGHLIGHTS
- 10.9% increase in Group revenue from £268.1m1 to £297.2m, despite significant Q4 COVID-19 impact
- Underlying organic revenue growth2 of 2.0%, with Q4 driving down expected performance
- Underlying Adjusted EBITDA (pre-IFRS 16)3 of £21.8m, decreased by 21.6% (FY 2019: £27.8m) as COVID-19 impact came too late in the year to mitigate revenue shortfall
- Reported PBT of £18.2m (FY 2019: £13.0m) an increase of 39.6%
- Increase largely due to adjustments relating to acquisitions
- Underlying Adjusted PBT of £13.8m (FY 2019: £20.3m), a decline of 32.4% due to COVID-194
- Adjusted diluted EPS5 of 3.0p (FY 2019: 7.1p)
- Reported diluted EPS of 3.8p (FY 2019: 4.5p)
- Closing net debt6 of £64.9m (FY 2019: £35.3m), reflecting COVID-19 impact and lockup days which peaked at 206 in April but have since reduced
- Proposed final dividend per share of 0.75p taking the total proposed dividend for FY20 to 3.25p
FY21 OUTLOOK AND CURRENT TRADING
- Strong trading for the first three months of FY21 with high double digit revenue growth driven by mid-single digit organic growth and contribution from acquisitions from RCD and Mindcrest
- Previously announced cost savings of £15m in FY21 are taking effect and are reflected in a significant uplift in EBITDA versus prior year, with cost to income ratio trending lower than 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 has reduced to £55.2m7 reflecting a £9.7m reduction on the April 20 position
- 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 pay-out ratio of up to 70% of Adjusted Profit after Tax.
FY20 GROUP FINANCIAL SUMMARY
Sir Nigel Knowles, 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."
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.
Profiles of these appointees and information required to be disclosed under LR 9.6.13 R (1) to (6) are below.
A presentation for analysts and investors of the full year results will be webcast today at 9:00am (BST) and can be accessed at https://webcasting.brrmedia.co.uk/broadcast/5f3a9ae7b14d8726264381fa
- Prior year figures are re-presented to exclude the results from discontinued operations
- Underlying organic growth is defined as the net revenue of any business unit that has been in the Group for at least 12 months, always excluding the first 12 months of any business unit that was acquired
- Underlying adjusted EBITDA is defined in note 2
- Underlying adjusted PBT is defined in note 2
- Adjusted diluted EPS is defined in note 8
- Net debt is defined in note 23 and excludes lease liabilities recognised under IFRS 16
- Source: 31 July 2020 Management accounts
For further information
DWF Group plc
James Igoe - Head of Communications
+44 (0)7971 783533
Finsbury (PR advisers to DWF)
+44 (0)20 7251 3801
DWF is a global legal business providing Complex, Managed and Connected Services, operating from 31 key locations with more than 4,200 people. The Company became the first Main Market Premium Listed legal business on the London Stock Exchange in March 2019. For more information visit: dwfgroup.com
Forward looking statements
This announcement contains certain forward-looking statements with respect to the Company's current targets, expectations and projections about future performance, anticipated events or trends and other matters that are not historical facts. These forward-looking statements, which sometimes use words such as "aim", "anticipate", "believe", "intend", "plan" "estimate", "expect" and words of similar meaning, include all matters that are not historical facts and reflect the directors' beliefs and expectations and involve a number of risks, uncertainties and assumptions that could cause actual results and performance to differ materially from any expected future results or performance expressed or implied by the forward-looking statement.
Matthew Doughty, Group Chief Operating Officer with effect from 22 October 2020
Matthew was appointed to the Board of DWF Group plc in November 2018. Matthew currently fulfils the role of Partner Director representing the interests of DWF partners on the Board. He will step down from this role on 22 October 2020 when he takes up the position of Group Chief Operating Officer on the Board. Matthew has been a partner at DWF since June 2016. In May 2020, Matthew became Group Chief Operating Officer and a member of the Executive Board. He was previously a corporate partner at Squire Patton Boggs (2013 to 2016), a corporate partner at Dorsey & Whitney (2009 to 2013) and a corporate partner of Addleshaw Goddard (2007 to 2009). Matthew holds an LLB degree from the University of Birmingham and completed the Law Society Final Examination in 1993 from the College of Law, Chester. He was admitted as a solicitor by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in 1996 and is a registered foreign lawyer with the Law Society of Scotland.
There are no additional matters that would require disclosure under LR 9.6.13 R (1) to (6) in respect of Matthew Doughty.
Michele Cicchetti, Partner Director with effect from 22 October 2020
Michele is Managing Partner of DWF (Italy) and joined the firm in November 2017. He is widely regarded in Italy as a specialist in acquisition finance, mergers and acquisitions and finance related transactions and before joining DWF he was a corporate finance partner at Pavia e Ansaldo (2011 to 2017), having also gained significant experience in the banking and finance sector at White & Case LLP (2001 to 2008). Michele holds a law degree from the University of Milan and he was admitted as a solicitor by the Italian Bar Association in 2005. In 2019 and 2020 Michele has been included in the list of the 100 most influential lawyers in Italy by Forbes magazine.
There are no additional matters that would require disclosure under LR 9.6.13 R (1) to (6) in respect of Michele Cicchetti.
Seema Bains, Partner Director with effect from 22 October 2020
Seema is a senior partner in the Insurance division. She joined DWF in March 2009 from Weightmans where she was an insurance partner from 2006-2009. Seema leads the Global Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Group and has done so since its formation in 2014. She holds an LLB degree from the University of Kingston and completed the Legal Practice Course in 1995 from the College of Law, Guildford. Seema was admitted as a solicitor by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in 1997 and is a registered foreign lawyer with the Law Society of Scotland.
There are no additional matters that would require disclosure under LR 9.6.13 R (1) to (6) in respect of Seema Bains