Co-op: We’re now the UK’s largest probate provider

CLS: Sales are continuing to increase

The Co-op has declared itself the largest provider of probate services in the UK as its financials continue to improve.

The group’s interim results today show that revenues at Co-operative Legal Services (CLS) in the first half of 2018 jumped 31% to £16.1m, compared to £12.3m in the same period last year – which was itself a significant improvement on the year before.

Profit for the six months quadrupled to £800,000 when compared with 2017.

Earlier this year, the Co-op acquired Simplify Probate, the UK’s second largest provider of probate, whose 170 staff took the total staff number at CLS to just over 600.

Simplify Probate was part of the Simplify Group, which also includes QualitySolicitors and residential property services company Move With Us.

As part of the deal, CLS is now working in a strategic partnership with Move With Us, and its sister businesses DC Law and JS Law, to handle the property and conveyancing requirements arising from estate administration work.

Last year, the Co-op brought its legal services operation together with its much larger funerals business to create a Funeral and Life Planning division.

The division’s overall revenues were up 5% to £174m, “reflecting a higher death rate in the first quarter and increased probate volumes, both from our existing business and following the acquisition of Simplify Probate”, today’s announcement said.

“Underlying profit was £28m, slightly down on 2017 (£29m) as increased investment made into both premises and pricing to support ‘leading the market’ business approach.”

Matt Howells, the managing director of CLS and of Life Planning, said: “Our results show continued progress and strong underlying growth in revenue and profit across our business during 2018.

“The results are in line with our ambition to grow our Life Planning business which, following our acquisition of Simplify Probate earlier this year, we have made good progress with. We expect to have completed the integration onto our platform by the end of the year.

“More broadly, I’m pleased that our sales are continuing to increase across our practice areas. Key highlights include significant growth in probate and a 42% increase in people taking out wills with the Co-op.

“Our family practice is also building steadily and performing well, with an increase in clients.

“Looking ahead, we remain committed to expanding our life planning and legal business. We will be continuing to invest in our colleagues and our technology capabilities, to ensure that we continue to innovate and deliver high-quality legal services, to our members and clients at the right price.”

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