"Hey Mr Taxpayer, spare any change?"

The Ince Group claimed £1.5 million in UK government furlough payments in the last financial year, while awarding its Chief Executive a £500k bonus. 

Ince's annual report revealed that in the 2020/21 financial year it went cap in hand to the UK government, claiming £1.5 million in furlough money. On top of this, the listed firm also received another £600,000 from similar furlough schemes in Singapore and Hong Kong. Meanwhile, the company paid a one-off bonus "directly linked to share price performance" of £500,000 to its Chief Executive Adrian Biles.

“The global pandemic placed constraints on the business, and we used government job retention schemes to protect jobs and support colleagues throughout that difficult period," a spokesman for Ince told RollOnFriday. "The money obtained from the furlough scheme was used as intended by HMRC.” The spokesman did not respond when asked if Ince would be paying back the money from the furlough scheme. 

While Ince was happy to take up the generosity of UK tax payers, it was in a giving mood when it came to its Chief Executive. The listed firm paid Biles an additional bonus of £500,000, on top of his annual salary of £70,000 and a performance-related payment of £366,000. 

“Over the last 12-months, we’ve actioned a range of measures that have stabilised the business’s overall performance, delivered double digit growth in EMEA and Asia, improved cash generation and strengthened the Group’s global offering," a spokesman for Ince said of the company's performance. "The share price subsequently rose over 300% during the 2020/21 financial year.  As a result, Adrian Biles was awarded a pre-agreed one-off short-term incentive.”

Lots of other firms have reimbursed the government's furlough payments after their financial performances exceeded expectations, including Norton Rose Fulbright, DLA Piper, Burges Salmon, DAC Beachcroft, Osborne Clarke, Irwin Mitchell and Eversheds Sutherland. Some, like Clifford Chance, never claimed any money in the first place. And Reed Smith agreed to repay furlough cash after a public shaming.

Ince's annual statement also revealed that cutting 47 staff roles resulted in a saving of £1.2 million. The listed firm also deferred various payments due to the pandemic, including tax owed to the Treasury, with a total outstanding sum of £5.8 million as at the end of March this year. Revenue at the Ince Group rose from £96.3 million to £100.2 million, but operating profits dropped from £7.6 million to £3 million.

The Ince Group was set up after Ince & Co was purchased by listed Gordon Dadds after the shipping firm was placed into administration at the end of 2018. Gordon Dadds had to defend the acquisition at the time, as it was criticised for acquiring Ince & Co in a pre-pack administration deal, under which it left behind Ince & Co's debts and most of its international network. 

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Anonymous 10 September 21 09:03

I will buy a big fat spider, name it Ince, give it a hat, eat the hat, then the spider, if Ince pays this money back.

Anon 10 September 21 09:31

Let’s hope Ince’s clients do not wish to be associated with a firm which demonstrates this kind of behaviour and take their work elsewhere. 

Anonymous 10 September 21 09:36

Please can Roll on Friday draw up a table showing:

> the law firms that took from the taxpayer?;

> the amount they took?;

> if, when and how much they repaid?; and

> their PEP this year. 

It’s the third one that is most interesting. For example some people say Wombles paid money back, but there doesn’t seem to be official confirmation of this. 

Anon 10 September 21 09:45

For conceptually intelligent people (I assume that everyone who sticks it out to get to the top of a city/ global law firm has a degree of intelligence/ business acumen) the people in charge of law firms sure as hell do a lot of dumb shit!

Forgetting the underlying business (I thought law firms were meant to be wildly profitable) but, seriously, do the people at the top not realise how awful a look it is to lay off 47 members of staff saving 1.2m, claim government hand outs of 1.5m, still manage to make a small profit - and decide to pay a 500k bonus... if the SRA want to talk about conduct that will cause people to think less of lawyers, they need to look at this kind of bollocks.

anon 10 September 21 10:34

anon above - the people making these decisions have hearts of pure ice, it looks good to them, more money in the bank and fvck everyone else. perhaps there are some honourable exceptions but - from direct experience - many of the senior people at what is now badged as Ince are pure slime (except the heart of ice). 

Anon 10 September 21 11:34

Disgraceful. Everyone in London also had really substantial pay cuts for a year too! “To save money and safeguard the business and avoid redundancies”. Hmm. 

Jeb Bush 10 September 21 11:39

For the avoidance of doubt. Adrian Biles (unfortunate surname), fired 47 people, claimed taxpayer money, then used that combined injection of cash to reward himself £500,000, under the guise of the share price rising 300%. 

The share price rose from October 2020 to now, because of things like the vaccines coming online, coupled with low covid numbers because the NHS was getting efficient at treating Covid, it had absolutely nothing to do with his leadership and its shocking they're framing it this way. For context, the share price is one third what it was originally at the time of listing in 2018, that means if you bought shares in Biles' new shiny adventure in 2018, they are now worth one third what they were and you've lost most of your investment.

By the way, you'll never get that investment back, particularly when Mishcon floats, and hoovers up all the investors willing to take a pop at investing in a law firm. 

The float, has been an absolute unmitigated disaster by all metrics. 

Where's the SRA?

Anonymous 10 September 21 12:18

Sure, the share price rose from 16p to whatever neighbouring figure it fell to, after falling from 185p ish before they acquired Ince's assets. The shareholders were rogered, Biles included. TOP SKIZ, but it's the comms that count, innit

Read between the lines. These guys needed the money to keep the sh*t show solvent. They won't be paying it back. 


The Brent school of management 10 September 21 14:11

Not as bad as claiming furlough but then telling your investors that you didn’t, eh Brenty boy?

Anon 11 September 21 01:22

@09.36 yes I’m Wombles marketing.  Yes we paid it back. Take this as official confirmation. Move on… 

Isittrue? 13 September 21 16:10

Does the Ince Group/Gordon Dadds actually make money on its own merits or is it more of a ponzi scheme dependent on never-ending acquisitons to keep things going?

Anonymous 13 September 21 17:32

I am a little intrigued by the statement that "Ince's annual statement also revealed that cutting 47 staff roles resulted in a saving of £1.2 million". This means each member of staff cost £25 500. Normally salaries are half the cost (less for London), the rest are taxes, costs relating to office space and infrastructure etc. Yet a salary of £10 000 seems on the brutal side. Does this mean that the cost is reduced by the expected massive bonus payout to management?

Anonymous 13 September 21 20:29

Can Wombles marketing (1.22am, Saturday 11th September 😬 ) also let us know:

> the amount they took?;

> if, when and how much they repaid?; and

> their PEP this year?

Anonymous 14 September 21 14:13

Down 35% in six months. 


Find that man and pay him a bonus!!!!


The 'partners' (they're not, except that they can walk and take the business with them once they are no longer locked in) have been wiped out, too.

Anonymous 15 September 21 09:02

Something tells me Wombles marketing team don’t post at 1am on Saturday morning.  

Therefore it would be good to get an answer we can trust (i.e. from Roll on Friday) on how much they trousered. 

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