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North-west ABS targets non-legal services as it unveils group structure

Stow: strategy to acquire complementary businesses [1]

Stow: strategy to acquire complementary businesses

North-west personal injury (PI) firm Thorneycroft Solicitors has been granted an alternative business structure (ABS) licence by the Solicitors Regulation Authority as part of a major restructuring of its operations.

The Macclesfield-based firm’s newly-formed parent company, TS Group (TSG), is made up of six businesses, including insurance claims management business Bankstone, in which TSG has increased its stake to take majority ownership.

In addition to Thorneycroft Solicitors, the group wholly owns: full-service accident management company Claimcare, car hire business United Assistance, and specialist PI brands Claimant Law and Cycle Assist.

The group, which employs more than 200 staff, is on track to record a turnover of £15m this year.

Managing director Rachel Stow said the flexibility ABS status provided was a natural development for the firm best known as a motorcycle injury specialist: “As a law firm we’ve always had one eye on the future and so weren’t caught off guard by the seismic changes in the legal services market.

“Our strategy to form strong strategic partnerships and acquire other complementary businesses has enabled us to continually innovate and grow. We are proud to have created a sustainable and diverse legal business, along with a far better service offering.”

The firm has grown the non-PI elements of its practice, with the private client and business departments now accounting for more than 10% of turnover “following a concentrated period of growth over the last two years”.

The PI operation has also been restructured into teams covering new business, portal claims (supported by a Thorneycroft app that aids communication with clients), non-portal claims, large loss claims and clinical negligence.

Ms Stow said the firm also planned to launch a non-legal services offering, “harnessing the broad range of expertise available within the wider group… Continuous innovation is a big driver for me”.

Meanwhile, Irwin Mitchell’s debt recovery arm Ascent has made its fifth acquisition since gaining its ABS licence in 2012, taking on the commercial debt recovery division of Sheffield-based P&A Receivables Services.

The business will trade under the new banner of Ascent Commercial. In March last year, Ascent bought HL Interactive as part of a deal which saw it relocate to larger premises in Manchester and increase headcount by 60. Other acquisitions have been PDP Management Services, Elliot Davies and Fraser Gowrie Johnston.

Niall Gilhooley, chief executive of Ascent, said: “This latest deal meets our strategic growth objectives and significantly improves Ascent’s footprint in the commercial debt recovery marketplace. It also enhances our international debt recovery capability.”