Leading South West law firm Battens Solicitors has today announced a change of ownership. After many years as majority shareholders, Chairman David Stephens and Commercial Property director Ray Edwards, will step down with five of Battens’ senior solicitors becoming the new owners and directors.
The five new owners include Ceri Stephens, who will take the reins as Managing Director, and Peter Livingstone, who will become Chairman. They will be joined in the running of the firm by equal shareholders Katherine Gilmour, Head of Company & Commercial, Louise Gidley, Head of Family, and Naomi Dyer, Head of Private Client.
Despite interest from external parties in the 150-strong firm, with offices across Somerset, Dorset and beyond, the former owners wanted to prioritise passing the firm on to existing members of the Battens team.
Commenting on the new ownership, former Battens Chairman, David Stephens, said: “Ray and I are both absolutely delighted that it has been possible to pass the ownership and running of the firm on to existing Battens team members. Ceri and Peter will continue as directors, and Louise, Katherine and Naomi who are becoming directors have been well versed members of the management committee for some time, so we’re leaving the business in really safe hands.
“What’s tremendously important and particularly beneficial is that all five have been with the business for at least ten years and in fact, Ceri, Naomi and Katherine have been with us since joining as trainees. We wish the new team every success, and naturally we will be on hand to ensure a smooth transition.”
Battens chose to make the announcement on International Women’s Day (IWD) to celebrate the fact that four of the five new owners of the firm are women. This year’s IWD ‘Choose to Challenge’ theme fits the firm’s commitment to equal opportunities for all and reflects its new structure as a majority female-owned and led law firm.
Ceri Stephens, Managing Director, said: “We are all really excited to be at the helm of Battens and writing the next chapter of the business. I hope that being a board made up of 80% women will inspire others, both within the firm and externally, to fulfil their potential.
“With all five of us already involved in the running of the firm and having a fantastic team of people behind us, we are looking forward to keeping the business going from strength-to-strength. And despite the challenges the pandemic has brought over the past twelve months, it has given us insight into new ways of working and how to remain agile and customer-focussed in a fast-moving market. We will definitely take what we have learnt during this period of change forward with us as we continue to evolve and develop as a firm, for the benefit of our clients and our staff.”
Chairman of Battens, Peter Livingstone, added: “Given the turbulence of the past twelve months with the virus and of course Brexit, we are extremely grateful to David and Ray for helping us to steer the ship and for waiting for the right time to make these changes. We are very pleased that they will continue to work alongside us. Ray will remain working with us in the commercial property department and with the Battens Charitable Trust and David will continue his invaluable compliance work. We are very thankful for all their support in making this happen.”
Pictured, from top left (clockwise): Peter Livingstone, Naomi Dyer, Katherine Gilmour, Louise Gidley and Ceri Stephens.