Dow Schofield Watts advised on 42 deals worth over £770m during 2016 – an increase in value of almost half a billion pounds on the previous year.

The firm said that 2016 had been a landmark year for its own business as well as the wider northern dealmaking community. There was strong deal activity driven both by strategic trade buyers and private equity investors and, while the Brexit vote  introduced an element of uncertainty, companies had taken the attitude that it was business as usual while they awaited further tangible news.

During the year Dow Schofield Watts continued to strengthen its capabilities with the arrival of experienced investor David Smith to head the technology advisory team, which has contributed to a threefold increase in technology driven transactions in the year, and international M&A tax expert Nick Woodward to lead its tax advisory arm. It also expanded its forensic arm as a result of the merger with forensic accountancy firm Bridge Houghton LLP.

During the year the North West team advised on key deals including the acquisition of ADAS by Cheshire-based environmental consultancy RSK Group; LDC’s sale of the Waterfall Catering Group to Paris-based multinational Elior Group SA; the £50m buy-out of the New World Trading Company, the pub and restaurant business behind The Botanist and Oast House brands; and the sale of Manchester-based rubber compounder Berwin Group to the listed Swedish company HEXPOL AB.

The Yorkshire team advised on the management buy-out of the water and wastewater specialist IETG Group from its US parent company IDEX Corporation; the management buy-in at Barnsley-based windows and decking fabricator SASH-Fitrite group by the former Safestyle management team John Ross and Nick Lilburn funded by Praesidian Capital; and the BGF and HSBC investment in Sheffield based leisure parks owner operator Coppergreen Developments.

They also advised on the sale of public sector software business Open Objects to Idox plc; the acquisition of Martract by Sheffield-based Pressure Technologies plc; and that of SAS Direct & Partitioning by SIG Plc, the FTSE 250 materials distribution specialist.

During the year the firm’s private equity arm PHD Equity Partners also sold its stake in leading tattoo supplies business Barber of Sheffield to RJD Partners in a deal which represented an internal rate of return (IRR) of 44.5%.

James Dow, founder of Dow Schofield Watts, said: “During 2016 we have continued to build our capabilities and expand our offering in line with our goal to become the independent advisor of choice for commercial and private equity clients. It has been a landmark year for us and for the wider northern dealmaking community.”

Ed Brentnall, Partner with Dow Schofield Watts Transaction Services, said: “While business was sluggish in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote, in the final quarter we’ve experienced the highest level of enquiries and live jobs since we started the Transaction Services practice eight years ago. With demand coming from private equity firms, venture capital trusts, large corporates and banks, it’s a very positive start to 2017.”