Source - LSE Regulatory
RNS Number : 0609Z
Knights Group Holdings PLC
19 May 2021
 

19 May 2021

Knights Group Holdings plc

("Knights", the "Company" or the "Group")

Full Year Trading Update

Strong profit growth, the successful integration of acquisitions and a return to good organic growth in the second half

Knights, the UK's fastest growing legal and professional services business1, today provides a trading update for the full year ended 30 April 2021.

Full year trading update

The Group anticipates revenue for the full year to be in excess of the market consensus2 of £100.8m representing a minimum 36% increase compared to the prior year (2020: £74.0m). This reflected 8% organic growth for the second half of the year despite the extended lock down during the last quarter of the financial year, representing a strong recovery from the significant COVID-related impact in the first half.  Underlying PBT3 is anticipated to be moderately in excess of market consensus2 of £18.0m, representing a minimum 32% increase from FY20 and a circa 44% increase in underlying PBT in H2 FY21 compared to H2 FY20.  This reflects the good organic growth in the core business and the successful integration of the acquisitions completed in FY20 and FY21.  The results show a particularly strong margin performance achieved in the second half as the Group's momentum returned.

This performance has been achieved without the Group using the Government's Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or any other Government support schemes.

Acquisitions

Both the acquisitions the Group completed during FY21, OTB Eveling LLP and Mundays LLP, have been successfully integrated into the Company as planned and are performing in line with expectations. Since period end, the Group has announced the acquisition of Keebles LLP. The business has proved to be an exceptionally strong cultural fit for Knights and integration to date is encouraging.

The Group expects to selectively execute on an attractive acquisition pipeline during the current year, with the medium to long-term effects of COVID-19 only accentuating the Group's acquisition opportunities in the highly fragmented market for legal services outside London.

Balance sheet and liquidity

The Group has continued to deliver excellent levels of cash conversion, reflecting its continued focus on industry-leading working capital management through robust systems for, and a strong culture of, day-to-day cash collection. This resulted in the year end net debt position being better than market consensus2 , with net debt excluding lease liabilities of £21.2m (FY 2020: £15.9m), after a £12.5m outflow in respect of all acquisition consideration (including deferred), and representing 0.9 times Underlying EBITDA2. Knights, therefore, retains a strong balance sheet with a conservative gearing level and good liquidity.

Dividend

The Board remains committed to a long-term progressive dividend policy, which will seek to take account of both the Group's earnings growth and outlook, and its opportunities to invest in organic and acquisitive growth.  An update will be provided with the announcement of its full year results 2021.


David Beech, CEO of Knights, commented: 

"Our robust full year performance is testament to the well-balanced and highly diversified business we have built over a number of years. We are proud of the commitment our talented people across the business have shown, which has delivered this resilient performance during a difficult economic period.  Having emerged in a stronger position from the initial stages of the pandemic, we saw good and growing momentum in the second half of the year.

"As well as adding a number of fee earners through acquisition, the critical mass the Group has now achieved means that its increased credibility, as a leading legal and professional services business outside London, is attracting both high calibre talent and an increasing number of opportunities with new and existing clients.

"With a well-invested platform and confidence in the Group's strategy, we look forward to making good progress in the new financial year as we continue to execute on the acquisitive and organic opportunities we see ahead."

Knights will provide a further update on trading with its full year results announcement on 14 July.

- ENDS -

Notes

1 Ranked number one for revenue growth over the last four years in the recently published Lawyer's Top 100 Survey

2  The latest company- compiled view of 9 analysts' expectations gives a consensus of revenue of £100.8m,  adjusted profit before tax of £18.0m,  underlying EBITDA of £23.9m and net debt of £22.0m for FY 2021.

3  Underlying PBT is before amortisation of goodwill; Underlying PBT and EBITDA are before non-underlying costs relating to acquisitions, non-recurring finance costs in both periods, restructuring costs in the reporting period, and non-underlying share based payments.  The Board believes that these adjusted figures provide a more meaningful measure of the Group's underlying performance.

 

Knights

 

David Beech, CEO

 

Via MHP Communications

Numis (Nomad and Broker)

 

Stuart Skinner, Kevin Cruickshank

020 7260 1000

MHP Communications (Media enquiries) 

 

Andrew Jaques, Katie Hunt, Rachel Mann

020 3128 8100
07585 301464
knights@mhpc.com

 

 

Notes to Editors

Knights is a fast-growing, legal and professional services business, ranked within the UK's top 100 largest law firms by revenue. Knights was one of the first law firms in the UK to move from the traditional partnership model to a corporate structure in 2012 and has since grown rapidly. Knights has specialists in all key areas of corporate and commercial law so that it can offer end-to-end support to businesses of all sizes and in all sectors. It is focussed on key UK markets outside London and currently operates from 15 offices located in Birmingham, Cheltenham, Chester, Crawley, Exeter, Leeds, Leicester, Maidstone, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford, Stoke, Weybridge, Wilmslow and York.

 

 

 

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