Shakespeare Martineau to open in Manchester as expansion continues

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UK top 50 firm Shakespeare Martineau is to open an office in Manchester, following the hire of real estate partner Stephen Chalcraft from Slater and Gordon.

Shakespeares has grown rapidly in recent years following a series of tie-ups, culminating in the merger of Shakespeares and SGH Martineau in 2015, a deal that saw it enter the Legal Week UK top 50 for the first time after posting 2015-16 revenue of £71m.

It currently has nine UK offices, the bulk of which are spread across the Midlands, as well as London, Milton Keynes and Sheffield, and one international outpost in Brussels.

The hire of Chalcraft is aimed at boosting the firm’s projects and regeneration capability across the Midlands and the northwest UK.

He was previously a partner at Manchester firm Pannone, which was taken over by Australia’s Slater and Gordon in 2013. During his time at Pannone, he held a number of roles including head of real estate, head of regeneration and head of public sector.

Real estate head Adrian Bland described the hire as a “real coup for the firm”, adding that Chalcraft has “a great deal of specialist regeneration and projects’ expertise, particularly in the public sector”.

Chief executive Andy Raynor added: “Stephen has vast experience across the northwest, the Midlands and nationally. It is no secret that we have ambitions to expand on a regional basis.

“Manchester remains a hotbed of commercial activity and somewhere we are very interested in. We’re not yet in a position to open a full-service Manchester office, but we hope that’s in our future.”

Other firms to have moved into Manchester in recent years include Shoosmiths in 2008, and Gateley in 2010. Meanwhile, a number of firms have also chosen Manchester to launch lower cost bases, including BLP and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.