The following article first appeared in the Sunday Business Post on November 25, 2018.
O’Flynn Exhams (OFX) Solicitors may have a history spanning three centuries and head offices in one of the finest Georgian buildings on Cork’s broad business boulevard, the South Mall.
But a recent, total renovation and modernisation of their HQ, which included fit-out with the latest in information and communication technology, underlines their 21st century vision and ambition to reach far beyond the banks of the Lee.
When Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Simon Coveney recently cut the ribbon on the new OFX offices, he was told of a legal services firm that first started serving the merchants of Cork in 1798 and today works daily on mergers and acquisitions transactions across a broad range of sectors and international borders.
OFX’s corporate department has five partners and five solicitors and the firm has enjoyed revenue growth of 25 per cent over the past three years.
“We are reaping the benefits of having our experience and our team in position in Cork at what is a very exciting time for the city,” says OFX Managing Partner Richard Neville.
“We are seeing a lot of new start-ups here in the city, overseas companies coming in to base themselves here and very strong growth in areas such as hospitality and retail, and in tech, fintech and the other sectors that Cork has been very strong in, in recent years”.
Richard says the firm recently did some research into what their clients appreciated most about their services and – just as importantly – wanted to see more of.
“It was a very valuable exercise for us as we found that what they valued was the hands-on partner led service, which is not always the case elsewhere, and that our partners are very accessible and very responsive.
“More than anything, we pride ourselves on bringing sound commercial judgement to transactions, and I think the feedback from our clients backed this up.”
“You would take it as a given that people in this area know the law. But it is in the heat of battle, when you have to make calls on critical elements in transactions and documents, that’s when you need that judgement; the guys in your corner who have been there before and can make those quick and accurate decisions”.
With the recent rise in the fortunes of Cork City, OFX has benefitted from the significant “return” of Leeside natives who had left to work in Dublin, London and beyond.
“People do like to come back home to Cork and it’s been a remarkable benefit for the whole city, and to ourselves, to have people who have had that experience of working abroad for major firms in a wide range of disciplines and often at a very high level,” says Richard. “We have several positions available for talented candidates who might be considering relocating to Cork.”
Cork’s tech sector has mushroomed, with a 63 per cent jump in the numbers employed in the last five years. More than 1 million square feet of new office space is due to come on-stream in 2019 – with rents on average 50 per cent less than those asked for in Dublin.
OFX see themselves as well positioned to work with the 300 (and growing quickly) tech companies currently in the city, many of them start-ups or burgeoning SMEs who will be planning eventual exit strategies. But OFX work across many sectors and, just this week, played their part in a major and complex deal which saw Kilkenny Design Centre (in Kilkenny) purchased by Marian O’Gorman’s Kilkenny Group.
“It’s a really good news story for Kilkenny Group and for Marian O’Gorman, one of our great entrepreneurs, and you couldn’t think of a more natural fit for two companies,” says Richard.
In terms of outlook and trends for 2019, Richard says “sentiment is very positive in Cork”.
“The Government project 2040 is very exciting for the region. Cork is positioned to be the fastest growing region in the state and we see no reason why the city shouldn’t kick on now and build on the recent success”.
“And O’Flynn Exhams is determined to be a big part of that”.