Co-operative boosts legal structure

It was recently announced that the Co-operative Group has bought Sheffield based firm, Collective Legal Solution Group, for an undisclosed sum.

The acquisition will form part of their already established services including insurance, wills, trusts, probate and funeral services.

The Co-operative, which has been trading for 172 years, was the first non-legal entity to be granted an alternative business structure (ABS) licence from the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) in 2012. More commonly known for its banking and retail services, the latest acquisition will see them break into a different sector of the legal industry as it recovers from major losses in the financial sector.

Co-operative Legal Services (CLS) Managing Director, Matt Howells, said recently that the Co-op is putting its legal services division ‘at the heart of the rebuild’ indicating towards a different working model for the legal business. “We have had a strategic review on the wills and probate business and consumer research tells us the majority of clients value a face-to-face service,” he said. “Our existing service was telephone based and remote. This acquisition enables us to have an alternative channel to market.”

It currently employs 300 staff turning over of £23.2 million while its losses in recent years have halved to £4.7 million. This figure included a £50,000 profit in the second half of the year, according to accounts.

The acquisition of Collective Legal Solution Group will add more staff to its face-to-face services offered to customers, the group said.

Collective was formed in 2007 and currently has 100 employees who specialise in estate planning. The business will initially work separately from the existing Co-operative Legal Services before the two entities are gradually merged with the Co-op’s already successful wills, probate and funeral businesses.

Collective Legal Services, which describes itself as an ‘inheritance-planning specialist’, says it is regulated by the Society of Will Writers and Estate Planning Practitioners. That body holds itself out as ‘a non-profit making self-regulatory organisation which seeks to protect the public’.

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