Central Belt employment law specialists acquires Aberdeen based Empire

Aberdeen-based HR and employment law firm, Empire, has been acquired by Law At Work (LAW).

The combined firm brings Empire’s position in the North-East together with LAW’s strong Central Belt client presence.

This transaction, which follows LAW’s acquisition of Square Circle HR in 2016, will see the new firm boast close to 1,000 clients UK-wide, with a projected combined turnover of £5.5m.

Empire and LAW have been pioneers in bringing fixed fee services to businesses facing legal and regulatory challenges for more than a decade. Clients of the newly combined firm will benefit from added knowledge and experience in existing sectors coupled with expertise in new areas. The new firm will have 70 staff across offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness providing nationwide coverage.

The new firm has plans to grow the business in both the North East and Central Belt regions. Under the deal, Empire founder and chief executive officer Steve Cook, and current managing director PJ Chalmers, remain with the business, joining the LAW board as directors and shareholders in LAW.

New Group MD, Steve Cook from Empire, said:

“‘We are two businesses which have known each other well for many years. We share the same aims and objectives: allowing clients to get on with growing their business, while we take their legal and compliance worries away. We are both already best in class but, through a combined offering, are now better placed than ever to set the standard others can only aspire to.”

Magnus Swanson from LAW, Chairman of the new group, added:

“It is a great opportunity for us to provide the best support for UK businesses to meet the rising challenges of legal compliance while having the certainty and transparency of fixed fees. From GDPR to tribunals and health & safety compliance, pressure on busy employers has never been greater.

“The combination of the two businesses will enable both LAW and Empire clients to access new enhanced services. Businesses want advisors they can trust and this deal brings together two trusted advisers in their distinct markets to form the strongest consultancy in our field in Scotland.”

Empire, established in Aberdeen in 2005, has expanded steadily through the years servicing clients, many in the oil and gas industry, across Scotland and the UK to become one of the leading independent employment law and HR companies in the North East of Scotland.

For LAW this follows record success in the first half of its financial year with revenues up 30% on the same period last year. LAW’s latest annual customer service survey also confirms the company’s overall performance producing the best-ever results according to the Net Promoter Score – a Harvard benchmark of excellence – indicating significant loyalty across their client base.

The debt funding for this deal was provided by HSBC. The advisors on the deal have been David Beveridge of Macdonald Henderson and Neil Grimmond of Craig Corporate on behalf of LAW and David Rennie of Stronachs and Tom Faichnie of Hall Morrice on behalf of Empire.

Ross Keenan, Relationship Director at HSBC in Scotland, said: “HSBC was delighted to provide funding to support Law At Work’s acquisition of Empire. We’re excited to play a role in the next stage of LAW’s continued development across Scotland.”