Co-operative Legal Services (CLS) – one of the original alternative business structures – has recorded a 29% increase in turnover in its last financial year as it consolidates its position as the country’s largest probate provider.
Its recently published results showed that, in the year to 5 January 2019, CLS saw turnover rise from £22m to £28.3m, with profits up 54% to £2m.
The business has recovered steadily since reporting a £9m operating loss in 2013. Turnover – which reached a high of £33m in 2012 – hit a low of £18m in 2015.
Most of the revenue growth last year came from CLS’s probate practice, up 40% to £18.8m. That followed its acquisition in late March 2018 of Simplify Probate, then the UK’s second largest provider of probate, from the group that owns QualitySolicitors.
The accounts reveal that CLS paid £1.7m and took on net liabilities of £2.6m to secure the deal.
CLS has been moved into the Co-operative Group’s funeral and life-planning business in recent times to encourage cross-selling.
Personal injury is CLS’s other big practice area, although its revenue only increased marginally to just over £5m.
Income from will-writing was up 44% to nearly £2m, claims handling up slightly to £2m, and family law increased 42% to a little over £1m.
Staff numbers at the end of the period were 360, up from 321 a year earlier. The highest-paid director received £339,000.
At the period end, CLS had net assets of £8.2m (up from £6.5m) and held cash reserves of £12.1m (up from £7.6m).
Last month, CLS won the Excellence in Technology and Innovation award at the Law Society’s Excellence Awards.
The award recognised its family law team’s approach to digital technology, including the development of an online divorce tool for clients, its work with the government to digitise the submission of divorce paperwork, the production of online content, and the use of in-house technology to support flexible working.