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Slater & Gordon continues office shutdowns

Leeds: No more S&G

Slater & Gordon (S&G) is closing one office and in consultation over closing another as it continues to rationalise its practice since becoming the first law firm owned by a hedge fund.

The firm is shutting its Leeds office, with 29 people losing their jobs, and is in consultation with around 100 staff in its Watford office in Hertfordshire.

Watford houses a call centre, but S&G’s main call centre is based in Liverpool.

An S&G spokesman said: “We have introduced new technology and processes that allow us to work more efficiently and provide a better experience for our customers. Consequently, we are closing our Leeds office and relocating the work to other locations.”

He was unable to comment on Watford further as the consultation is ongoing.

Over the past two years, S&G has closed its offices in Chester, Wrexham, Preston, Milton Keynes, Sheffield and Fareham. This leaves Birmingham, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Liverpool, London and Manchester.

When S&G separated from its Australian parent in late 2017, its senior lenders – led by Anchorage Capital – took control in a debt-for-equity deal.

New technology has been a core element of S&G’s turnaround plan since then. Its recent annual report said that it invested £6.7m in technology initiatives in 2018 as a first phase of a £30m three year programme [1], as part of which it has become the first business in the world to deploy Microsoft’s Managed Desktop.

The report said: “Our staff now use the latest Surface Pro devices, with Microsoft automatically managing, updating and securing these devices. Surface Pros make use of facial recognition as one layer of access security, therefore reducing the risk of security breaches.

“This relationship enabled the business to provide a more consistent, flexible and modern approach to working. It has also permitted us to further enhance our data security through Azure, which is a critical priority for our business when dealing with sensitive customer events.”

It has been a tough week for S&G, which over the weekend settled its £637m claim [2] against Watchstone, as Quindell is now known, for £11m on the eve of a nine-week trial.

However, the 2018 results showed that the firm made a small operating profit of £1m [3] on revenue of £223m.