Profit is continuing to rise at Co-operative Legal Services (CLS), half-year results published today have revealed.
In the first six months of 2016, sales rose 10% to £11m, and it made a £1m profit – having broken even during the same period of 2015.
Over the whole of 2015, CLS recorded a £700,000 profit on a turnover of £18m as it recovered from two years of plunging sales and losses, with the LASPO reforms a key cause.
The group’s six-month report noted that this year marks the tenth anniversary of Co-operative Legal Services – many people forget that it had been providing services to Co-op members for six years before becoming an alternative business structure (ABS) in 2012 and able to advise all members of the public.
“Simply put, we aim to deliver accessible, expert and trusted legal services with transparent pricing. At the end of last year we acquired Sheffield-based Collective Legal Solutions. The acquisition has helped us to build our support into communities throughout England and Wales with face-to-face advice on estate planning, wills, lasting powers of attorney (LPAs), trust and probate. The business brings to us more than 100 associates and support colleagues.”
On the back of this acquisition, estate planning sales (wills, trusts and LPAs) now form 18% of CLS’s business – up from 3% in the prior year.
“Our probate and estate administration business continues to grow and is up 6% on prior year despite a lower UK death rate than in the same period last year. The revenue growth is aligned with our plans and our profit is in line with expectations as we continue to invest in the business.”
The report said that during the second half of 2016, CLS would continue to focus on growing estate planning, probate and estate administration.
“We will continue to invest in improving our customer services and improving our customer satisfaction as we continue to use technology to improve processes and services.
“We are currently building an advanced solution for the probate and estate administration business to simplify taking customer instructions and to speed up case initiation. We are also continuing to develop our online platform to make it easier for people to instruct us on estate planning services.”
The report also recorded that Margaret Casely-Hayford, former director of legal services for the John Lewis Partnership, has joined the group’s board as a member-nominated director.
In June, CLS announced that members who buy legal services will receive an “automatic 5% personal reward” back, with a further 1% reward going into supporting local community groups and charities.