SNR Denton set to hike UK partner profits after cost-cutting measures

SNR Denton is set to report significant growth in UK profitability after a year of pushing billing and cutting costs, according to its global chief executive Elliott Portnoy (pictured).

The firm, which last year saw EMEA profits per equity partner (PEP) dip by 36% to £232,000, has since embarked on a major drive to boost profitability in the UK.

Portnoy indicated that the firm’s UK management has been successful in turning fortunes around, with one SNR Denton City partner telling Legal Week he expects PEP to be up by £100,000 this year.

While this would mark an increase of 40%, it would still fall short of the ambitious target set out by Portnoy in June last year to grow EMEA PEP to £400,000 during the current financial year. The firm’s average US PEP rose by 7% during 2011 to reach $880,000 (£555,000).

Portnoy commented: “I expect there to be a substantial increase in profitability. We set out with a clear growth plan for profitability across our EMEA practice, which has been led successfully by our UK-based management team.”

The firm, which was formed by the 2010 merger of the UK’s Denton Wilde Sapte and US firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, is targeting further expansion and is understood to have held preliminary merger talks with up to a dozen firms since the transatlantic tie-up, with potential partners understood to have included Salans.

Portnoy said: “There are a number of ongoing initiatives, all of which are very consistent with our strategy over time. All of this expansion is driven by our clients and our sectors and not by geography. It is important strategically that partners understand that the SNR/Dentons merger was not a destination but a part of the journey.”

Target markets for European expansion include Germany, where the firm does not currently have a presence, and Paris, where it has seen recent departures. Other new geographies the firm is considering include Canada, Australia and New Zealand.